20 August 2015
Pocono Raceway: Sponsor boost for Rahal ahead of showdown
Graham Rahal will carry extended Steak 'n' Shake backing into the final rounds of his IndyCar title challenge.
After a successful introduction, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Steak 'n Shake have agreed to expand their partnership to include primary sponsorship of Graham Rahal's entry through the final two Verizon IndyCar Series races of the 2015 season.
Rahal is currently second in series standings, only nine points out of first place with the races at Pocono Raceway this weekend and Sonoma Raceway on 30 August remaining on the schedule.
Steak 'n Shake was the primary sponsor of the #15 entry for six races this season - included Long Beach, two events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Detroit, and Mid-Ohio. Maxim Magazine branding will also continue to be prominently featured on the car at the final rounds, as both brands are owned by Biglari Holdings Inc.
“The excitement and support of Steak 'n Shake's involvement with the team and Indycar racing has exceeded my wildest expectations,” team co-owner Bobby Rahal said, “I said when we first announced the partnership that it was our goal to put them in Victory Lane and we have been able to do that two times this season and finish on the podium a series-high six times overall so far. I'm very happy they have extended their relationship with us to include primary sponsorship at Pocono and Sonoma where we hope to bring them more success - and hopefully a championship.”
The extended deal is also a boost for Rahal's son, who heads to Pocono determined to keep himself in position to emulate his father and claim an Indycar title.
With his win in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on August 2, Rahal Jr closed the deficit to series leader Juan Pablo Montoya from 42 points to just nine with two races to go and he is looking forward to the upcoming challenge.
“We're in a good place and we've got momentum on our side for sure with four top-fives in a row,” he noted, “It's been a record-breaking season for me so, at this point, I'm just going to go out there and try to have fun and do the best we can. Hopefully, everything will take care of itself. If we put ourselves in a good position and we're smart throughout the race and weekend then hopefully we'll be in a place where, come the end of it, we can go for it and go for a win.”
Rahal has already taken the Steak 'n Shake Honda to a fifth place finish in the Indy 500 before winning the MAVTV 500 at Fontana, and is hoping for another strong result in the final 500-mile race of the this weekend.
“Different aero packages were run at the other 500-mile races, but I do think that we have learned a lot since we first ran the aero package on an oval and I think that lately we have been able to get some work done to close the gap even further to where we ultimately want to be,” Rahal commented.
“This is a big race for us from many different perspectives and starting up front is going to be very important, particularly if Pocono goes at it did last year where it was pretty green the entire race. I think we are starting to figure out the aero kit, we're starting to get in a better place here and become a little more competitive. Hopefully, this will be the next step and we will be able to show that this weekend.”
Rahal also knows that there are many drivers capable of a win this weekend, especially those he is surrounded by in the championship standings and, with double points on offer at Sonoma, the championship is about more than just him and Montoya.
“The contenders are the obvious ones: (Will) Power, Helio (Castroneves), (Scott) Dixon, myself and obviously (Juan Pablo) Montoya,” he confirmed, “I would expect (Marco) Andretti and the whole (Andretti Autosport) team to be good at Pocono so they are going to be tough, as will the rest of the Ganassi cars. There are a lot of good guys out there right now, but the guys we are racing against in the standings really, like Dixon and Montoya, we have to stay close to those guys and they don't have any weaknesses. Montoya won last year and I fully expect him to be pretty strong again.”
Rahal doesn't have the best of records at Pocono, with an 18th-place finish in 2013 being followed by a fraught 2014 race in which he lost a helmet pad and, later, spun into the wall.
“I think the style of racing is going to be more like it was at Indy,” he concluded, “I don't see anybody going two-wide anywhere around Pocono like at Indy but, with the long straightaways, it definitely gives you the opportunity to tow up on somebody and get by. It's going to be fast like it was last year, but I would say it would be most similar to the conditions in Indy as far as performance and passing opportunities which is just like it was last year at Pocono. There will probably be a lot of green flag running so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”
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