Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal already has one eye on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship following a strong start to the season despite being only two races into the year.
Rahal goes into this weekend’s race in Long Beach in fourth place in the championship following a second place finish in St Pete and a ninth place finish in Phoenix last weekend.
Rahal in the No.15 Total Honda commented ahead of Long Beach saying:
“I think we should be competitive at Long Beach. St. Pete wasn’t the best for us so from a street course perspective, I think we have some work to be done but I also know that Tom (German, race engineer) and everyone is working hard to find a solution to make the cars perform more competitively than we did in St. Pete. I think that with the universal aero kit, the Indy cars are going to be way quicker on the straightaways, and I think Long Beach is going to highlight that. I’m excited about getting on track in the Total Honda and showing that. I think the fans are really going to enjoy it. I think it’s going to be great for passing on the front straights and other places and I also think that with the tire degradation that we saw at St. Pete, and having a similar tire in Long Beach, it should make the racing really, really interesting. With three in a row, this is an important time. We obviously got some good points in Phoenix, but we would have obviously liked to have been better but Long Beach is going to be important to continue that momentum and not lose any ground. It’s good for us to be fourth in points and to be as close as we are because historically that hasn’t been our strength. Historically we have not been good at starting off the season, so we’re in a better position that we have been in probably ever so I’m excited about that and I think that’s going to help us. Outside of the Indy 500, Long Beach is the biggest race for us. Forty four years of a lot of history for Indy car racing and a lot of close calls for the Rahals in Long Beach, so hopefully this year we can make it happen and get a win after a lot of second-place finishes.
Takuma Sato in the No.30 MiJack/Panasonic Honda who finished the race in Phoenix in 11th place commented about Long Beach saying:
I believe the competitiveness from St. Pete will transfer to Long Beach. The track characteristics are obviously not the same and Long Beach has lower grip, but most of the parts are similar. It’s disappointing that I couldn’t have a good result in St. Pete, but that’s motor racing and we will sometimes have bad luck and sometimes good. Long Beach is everyone’s favorite. It’s so special. It has a lot of history, a great location, food and atmosphere. It’s so gorgeous and a lot of fun both on track and off track. I am really lucky to win two of the top races in the series (2017 Indy 500, 2013 Long Beach) but of course, I want to add more. People really enjoy the event and so do I — especially winning the 2013 race which was so special for me and makes me very happy thinking about that race. I was at A.J. Foyt’s team back then but shared the podium with my current teammate Graham so I would love to repeat that this year too.