Graham Rahal believes it is time for the expanded Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) squad to take on and beat the best teams in IndyCar.
Speaking ahead of the first race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar series in St. Petersburg, Florida Rahal was unequivocal about his expectations: “I think this year can be something special for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, and I am focused heavily on making that possible. It’s time for us to win championships.”
Aero kit offers chances to equalize the field
The introduction of IndyCar’s new universal aerokit (UAK) has buoyed the 6-time race winner. Leaving Rahal in little doubt that he can once again challenge for championship honors: “I am really excited about this new aero kit as I do think it will equalize things.
“The way I think about it, if you do your job and you nail the setup, you will be right there contending for wins. Before, there were certainly cases and tracks where that wasn’t the way it was for us”
Rahal – who finished 4th in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar championship – and his RLL team have struggled against multi-car entries in recent seasons.
As all teams grapple with the characteristics of the new UAK, Rahal will benefit from running a second car in 2018. Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato returns to RLL, having raced there in 2012.
Will RLL finally get the reward for their efforts?
2017 was a mixed season for Rahal and RLL. The United Rentals-backed driver will hope to avoid a repeat of last year’s lap 1 clash with Charlie Kimball in St. Petersburg. A subsequent run of poor finishes in Alabama and Phoenix effectively wrecked any chance of challenging for the championship. This despite a mid-season rally that saw Rahal take back-to-back wins in Detroit, plus top 5 finishes at Texas and Iowa.
But the 29 year-old is certain that 2018 will offer up some returns for the efforts of the whole RLL outfit: “I think our team has worked incredibly hard this offseason, and I do think our guys deserve to be rewarded for that.”
“We are all refreshed. We are all anxious and excited for what’s to come.”