Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing head into this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports aiming for a strong start to the team’s month of May. Graham Rahal heads into the weekend having scored two podium finishes in eleven previous race starts here and speaking ahead of the race he said:
“I’m excited to go back to Alabama. Barber is always a track I’ve had a great love for and had a lot of success at so for me, I think it’s a good opportunity to go and turn our season around and be able to get a win. We as a team have been very competitive there before as well. Last year we did not qualify well. There was no pace for Takuma or myself. However, in the race we had pretty good pace and were able to go from 18th up to seventh as a finishing position, challenging with Ericsson and Bourdais most of the race so it was great to have a good result. We’re excited for the opportunity ahead of us and hopefully we can make it happen. This season could use a bit of a boost. With Barber at the beginning of May, which leads into the GMR Indy Grand Prix, which leads into the Indy 500, it’s an important time for us to get momentum going in the right direction.”
Christian Lungaard in the No.30 Shield Cleansers Honda returns to the scene of his first-ever NTT IndyCar Series test and speaking ahead of the race this weekend he said:
“Testing at Barber is obviously the first time I ever drove an Indy car and it was well exciting. I had the opportunity to do it and it’s the reason why I’m here today so I’m sure going back there will bring back some memories and I’m sure we’ll have a good weekend. I have more experience at that track than I have at any other track that we are racing on this year so I’m going to give it everything. I’m looking forward (to it) and hoping we can enjoy it.
“I don’t have expectations at all actually. For me, it’s more personally about improving the package we have and keep delivering. We haven’t quite done that so far so I’m sure coming to a track that I know, our total package can already be better from the get-go so I think its building from where we left off last year, which was pretty decent, I would say, considering it was the first time I was in the car. Alabama, here we go!”
Jack Harvey in the No.45 Hy-Vee Honda has made two starts here in 2019 and 2021 and is looking forward to returning to the track.
I enjoy everything about Barber. It’s a really fun track to drive. I think my favorite sequence is probably Turns 7, 8, and 9, where you get by the museum. Through that whole section you have to ride the curbs quite aggressively but it’s obviously quite quick on the way in. I really enjoy the whole track honestly. I’m entering the event with hopeful optimism. The season hasn’t exactly gotten off the way we all hoped it might. That being said, going to a road course is my bread and butter coming from Europe. We ‘ve had good success there from Indy Lights to INDYCAR. At this point, we just want to get our season on the path that we want to and Barber is a good weekend to do that. Honestly right now I think we’re going there with positivity and optimism that we’re going to have a great weekend.
Harvey went on to say:
I know the results haven’t been what we collectively hoped they might. To be honest, it’s just a matter of time before those results come together. That having been said, I’m really enjoying my time with everybody at RLL and with Hy-Vee. We did one day of practice at Sebring before we got the season started. Once you are in the thick of the season, you just go, go, go. You don’t really have time to try little bits and bobs so I’m really encouraged about where we can go. Obviously now the hard work is making sure we get ourselves on the right path again and head the way we want to and get the end results.
“I think that the way everyone is working together is a good one, we’ve just got to find those few bits that are missing and put them together and have a successful weekend. I’m really proud of everybody for how they are digging deep and still trying to get the results. In reality, it’s three races. We’re not 10 races in, still struggling. The first three are very tough tracks to go to so I think that’s why everybody is encouraged to go to Barber. It’s a track we’ve all been to, we’ve all had good success there and really it is a good time for us to unite and get a good result.
Speaking about his favorite parts of the Barber Motorsports Park, Graham Rahal commented saying:
“Alabama is a very high-speed track in many areas. “I feel like Turns 8 and 9 are always kind of blind and challenging on the corner entry there but clearly at the end of the backstraight — Turns 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 — that area takes a lot of guts and courage to get through it and push yourself hard. Our race pace was good last year but we need to qualify up front to be able to get a win and we’re certainly going to try to do so.”
Christian Lungaard commented on his favorite parts of the track saying:
“My favorite corners of the track will probably be the fast left-right because I love elevation. “I’m now new to this oval thing we do here in America with the banked corners and I think this is a bit the same sensation you get, just on a road course, with the elevation going down, going up with the compression at the bottom. We’ve got that at one track in Europe which is Spa and that’s just the best corner in Europe so we’ve got one here and I think that’s my favorite corner in Alabama.”