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Rahal relying on experience to help younger team members before 17th 500 start

To say Graham Rahal is no stranger to the Indianapolis 500 is an understatement. In fact, Rahal’s history with the race before he was even born. In 1982, seven years before Graham’s birth, his father Bobby competed at Indy for the first time. Four years later, he won the 500, cementing his place in history. For his son, although that coveted victory hasn’t come yet, his 16 starts have come with plenty of experience.

That experience is starting to help the six-time race winner mentor some of the younger engineers and mechanics working on his team:

“As a veteran guy now, at least at my level, it’s not only me, it’s trying to help the engineer. Because I have a lot of young engineers too.” said Rahal at Tuesday’s media bullpen.

In 16 starts, the Ohio native has three top 10s along with three starts from the first three rows. In his career, he has been on the same team as multiple race winners, such as Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, and Takuma Sato. Recently, Rahal was running near the front of the 2021 edition of the race, before a loose wheel sent him into the wall just past the halfway point.

Taking from experience like that, the 35-year-old helps calm the nerves of some of those younger RLL team members.

I looked in the eyes of my engineer the other day, and I could see the nerves that he had going on. I said, look, relax, we got time to recover. We got time to think through these things. Like you don’t need to run a hundred laps a day.

– Graham Rahal, Driver of the No. 15 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

This comes just under a year after Rahal suffered one of the biggest heartbreaks of his career, being the only car bumped from the field in 2023. Although he eventually landed a ride with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing when Stefan Wilson suffered a back injury in practice, the focus still remains on improving on RLL’s poor showing in qualifying a year ago.

“I want to know ‘Hey, in the toe, did you feel this or that?’ Because that’s an indication of raw speed of the car and mechanical drag. Are we better? Are we not? Last year our cars wouldn’t suck up to save their lives…“

Graham Rahal teams up with Pietro Fittipaldi, Christian Lundgaard, and Sato for the 500 this year. The 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place on Sunday, May 26th. Coverage starts at 11:00 a.m. on NBC.


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