15 November 2012
Graham Rahal joins RLL for 2013
"I've known him since he was 17 years old," Lanigan added. "I've known Bobby a long time. And I know the quality team Rahal Letterman Lanigan puts out, and I think it will be very successful."
Graham has spent the last two seasons at Ganassi Racing, and while that's brought him seven top-five finishes in 32 races (including two second-place finishes) and undoubtedly developed and seasoned him as a race car driver, it's clear that he had grown increasingly frustrated playing second fiddle to the team's top drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.
Graham admitted that his new three-year deal at RLL would "erase all questions in my mind about knowing where I stand in terms of the pecking order" compared with his experiences in 2011 and 2012.
"It's even down to little strategy things, things we've done in the past," Graham explained of some of the tensions that had been building at Ganassi. "I genuinely feel I should have won the Kentucky race in 2011 but for some reason we were the only car in the entire field that didn't put enough fuel in. You look at Baltimore last year. I didn't even need to pit and yet I was pitted and that took me from second back to 11th. [At RLL] I don't have to worry about those things. I don't have to worry about strategy.
"Everyone on the team is not going to put me in a position where I can't succeed, particularly my dad," he pointed out. "He is going to do everything he can to give me a 100 per cent effort and that gives me a lot of confidence. Dad and I work well together and, quite frankly, I've always relied on him heavily no matter what team I have been on."
After three years away from IndyCar, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing only returned to full season competition in 2012 when it fielded former F1 driver Takuma Sato, who came close to pipping Dario Franchitti for victory in the 2012 Indy 500. Bobby Rahal said that he was still hopeful that the team would add a second car to the team's line-up in 2013, and that Sato was still in the running for a seat with RLL of that happened.
"We'd love to have Takuma back," he said. "[But] there are other guys out there that are available, guys like Ryan Briscoe or Justin Wilson who I have a great deal of respect for both of those guys. We're working hard. We're not there yet, but I'm hoping by year's end we'll have something put to bed."
Graham's season will be backed by primary sponsor TBC Retail Group and by associate sponsor Valvoline. He will have his first outing in the team's #15 car on November 27 at Barber MotorSports Park and will also take part in a test at Sebring International on December 12. He will inherit Sato's race engineer Gerry Hughes, with his father Bobby acting as race strategist.
"This is probably the most excited I have been to join any team because I see the potential behind what my dad and the rest of the team have been able to accomplish over the last year with Takuma," said Graham. "Dad's team helped resurrect Ryan Hunter-Reay's career and Buddy Rice's and Michel Jourdain's," he pointed out, adding: "He gave Danica her shot and I'm really stoked about being here. It's a fresh outlook for me.”
"Knowing the development and other things that the team will now have the time to do to prepare for the season makes me more than thrilled to be here," he concluded.
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