Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing head to the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix this weekend at Belle Isle raceway for the double header in Detroit aiming to secure their fourth podium here in five years.
Fresh from the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday, Graham Rahal in the No.15 SoldierStrong/TurnsForTroops.com Honda goes into the this weekend’s event following a 12th place finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Rahal is currently in 15th place in the series standings on 144 points and speaking ahead of the race weekend about his chances of returning to the podium in Detroit this year he stated:
We had a decent race going for both of the races last year. After finishing fourth in the first one, unfortunately the brake line came loose before the start in the second one. We had a decent starting position and had a good car actually but went to the back because of the brake line and had to recover from that. Overall I feel like we should be very competitive going back. We had podium finishes in 2014 and 2015 so hopefully we can get it done and get more trophies. It hasn’t always come easy to us there but it’s one of those tracks that a lot can happen in the races there. You get a lot of variation between good qualifying cars and good race cars. A lot of good guys can beat up the tires there. Hopefully we can go out there, have a good, consistent car, wear them down and get good results for United Rentals and SoldierStrong.
Oriol Servia continues in the No.16 Honda this weekend, carrying Fifth Third Bank as his primary sponsor aiming to get revenge following his retirement from the Indianapolis 500 last weekend and looking to build on his previously strong performances in Belle Isle. Speaking about the race he commented by saying:
I got my first Indy car podium in my rookie year at Detroit and since then I have finished in the top six each time I raced there so I hope to continue that at the two races this weekend and get a good result for Fifth Third Bank in their first time as a primary sponsor on an Indy car. Hopefully we get a little revenge from this past weekend in Indy. I thought we had a great run and would at least challenge for the win and be a top-three car for sure but we couldn’t finish that way. This weekend we have two chances to get that revenge and hopefully we get two podiums – one of which is a win at least, which is what I feel the whole team deserves. We’re going to work hard. It’s a short weekend with only one day of practice so hopefully it stays dry so I can get as many miles as possible.
Speaking about his first podium experience at Belle Isle, Servia commented by saying:
I remember a couple of things about my first podium. First of all I remember it was a great race and that I was very happy because it was my first podium. But I remember more about the people I was with at the podium. Finishing second was Max Papis, who looked me in the eye and said ‘Oriol, you got your first podium very early in your Indy car career and you think they are going to come easy, but it’s not that easy.’ And he was right, it’s tough. And also it was Helio’s first win and the first time he climbed the fence so I witnessed his first act as Spiderman. That was something for the history books.
Rahal and Servia spoke about the double header weekend with Rahal stating:
Everyone is tired. You’ve just done one race and you have to get in shape and get hydrated to go do the second. No matter whether you are big or small, it’s a physical race that beats you up. There are a lot of bumps, bruises and blood; it’s going to be another one of those weekends. You expect it and anticipate it. It’s kind of nice to get to the street course in Detroit after being at Indy and on the oval for so long. It’s a great way to get a reset and do it immediately versus waiting any set period of time before going racing again. Particularly if Indy doesn’t go your way, it’s a good way to be able to move on pretty quick.
Oriol Servia commented by saying:
I have been preparing for the physical aspect of a street race which I didn’t the past two times I raced on a road or street course because I didn’t have a lot of notice (Sonoma 2015, St. Pete 2016). “I had a lot of notice for this race and I worked hard to be in very good shape but at the end of the day, any Indy car street race is tough and this will be two so I’m sure I will be pretty beat up but I hope I am just a little less beat up than the others.
Rahal is reverting back to the livery he used at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and speaking about it he said:
The American red, white, and blue United Rentals Turns for Troops car is one of my favorite liveries and I’m happy to have it back in Detroit. It’s beautiful and pulls at everyone’s heart strings. With the laps completed program and shirts we have for sale, it’s a great cause. I’m proud to be part of it and excited to see the car on track again. I want to thank Chris Hummel and everyone at United Rentals for allowing us to run it again and for being such a great, unselfish partner to our team. It’s really bringing light to an important situation and I’m happy to help raise money for SoldierStrong.