By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Years in IndyCar: 10
Career Laps led: 240
2016-17 Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Graham Rahal has established himself as one of the most exciting drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The driver of the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda had another solid year in what has been a career turnaround. He edged out James Hinchcliffe by 0.008 of a second for a thrilling win at the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway in August.
He also put on a hell of a show at Barber Motorsports Park as he reeled in eventual series champion Simon Pagenaud in the waning laps. Had it not been for contact with a lapped car, he very possibly could have pulled off the win.
A crash with Charlie Kimball at the penultimate round at Watkins Glen hurt any chance of getting into the top three in the championship. He responded a week later at Sonoma with a runner-up finish that lifted him up to fifth in the standings.
It was the second-straight year, Rahal and RLL have beaten Andretti Autosport to the punch as the top Honda team.
The team’s solid engineering staff of Eddie Jones, Neil Fife, Mike Talbott, Martin Pare and now engineering consultant Tom German has allowed the 28-year-old to overcome the Honda aero kit’s pitfalls.
The only real places he struggled for pace were at the pair of 500 mile events at Indianapolis and Pocono.
With Rahal nearing his peak in terms of confidence and race craft, 2017 could be the year he takes that next big step.
The team is focusing their efforts on running better at Indianapolis. Helping him for the Month of May will be a valuable teammate in Oriol Servia.
Rahal cited Servia as being a big help in getting his career turned around with his valuable chassis feedback.
The team is facing another challenge on the manufacturer’s championship side as Chip Ganassi Racing moves over to Honda this year. Rahal does not seem intimidated by Ganassi’s move and feels confident about their odds.
“I don’t believe that it is going to change much for us,” Rahal told the Motorsports Tribune. “I think that we are just going to have to do the absolute best we can to be the best that we can and try to go out there and beat them.”