By: Ashley McCubbin
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has put together a solid NTT IndyCar Series season to date, as highlighted by winning the Indianapolis 500 with Takuma Sato.
So how would the boss grade the year thus far with three races remaining?
“I thought we were a little better than a B, at least a B plus. Winning the Indy 500 in a very competitive race, that’s got to skew things a little bit to your benefit,” Bobby Rahal told POPULAR SPEED.
Currently, Graham Rahal enters the IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix ranked sixth in points, with Sato just one point behind him. The pair are just five and six markers respectively behind Will Power for fifth, as well.
“I think if you look at our qualifying in general this year has been very good, probably the best we’ve had, especially in Graham’s case,” Bobby Rahal expressed. “Other than, say, the two ovals, Iowa and St. Louis, he’s been in the top five every other race. Indy he was eighth. All the road courses, P2, P4, P5, P3. That’s strong. We really haven’t had that kind of performance.”
While boasting six top-10 starts in 11 races including a second at the Indianapolis Grand Prix, Graham Rahal has yet to victory lane with three podiums and five top-five finishes. The inconsistency has the driver of the No. 15 Honda saying they’re either a A+ or D when they get to the track.
“It’s just like we got to figure out how to smooth that out,” Graham Rahal told POPULAR SPEED. “We really only had a couple of bad races. St. Louis was a killer. Obviously we earned some results without having a lot of luck, which is kind of unique for us. We need to get a little combination of luck and get our performance back up there.
On the flip side, Sato has just one other top-five (second at Gateway) outside of his win at Indianapolis.
“I think we definitely have improved from last year. We still have work to do, for sure,” Bobby Rahal acknowledged. “But so far I’ve been pleased, even though we’ve had a couple bad races in Graham’s part especially.”
Knowing where they are in points with three events remaining, the goal is simple – break into the top-five by season’s end.
“I think these finishing string of races do suit our team and suit our style,” Graham Rahal shared. “I hope that we can be really strong and gain a lot of points and finish well in the championship. To finish in the top three isn’t too farfetched. We can be there. That’s what we’re going to aim to do.”
Bobby Rahal echoed those same sentiments, saying they need to be focused on earning the most points out of everybody.
“While things could have been a little better earlier, you can look back and say woulda, coulda, shoulda, but two out of five I’d take, be happy with that,” he added. “Now we have to go to next year and make sure we don’t have the bad races we had in order to win the championship.”