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Can single car teams cut it in IndyCar?

Can single car teams cut it in IndyCar?
By:'s Christopher DeHarde talks with those drivers on single car teams campaigning in the IndyCar season this year.

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Gabby Chaves, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Gabby Chaves, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Gabby Chaves, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Out of 24 cars that race in the Verizon IndyCar Series, 22 of them belong to multi-car teams, but what about the other two?

Single car teams have become the exception, rather than the rule.  Multi-car teams were few and far between in IndyCar racing for a long time until Penske started to rack up more and more wins during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Nowadays, it’s very rare to see a single car operation in IndyCar racing anymore.

One such operation was very recently a two car team.  Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing was a two car team in 2013 but only had a second car at select races last season.  Graham Rahal hasn’t had a full time teammate since James Jakes was with the team but wasn’t too downtrodden about his team’s disadvantage when it comes to a lack of strength in numbers.

More cars means more data

“If you get the car right, you’re going to be fast no matter what, certainly it’s not as easy in the sense that when you’ve got 3 or 4 cars it’s a little bit easier to look at the data and figure out where you’re losing time or where you’re gaining it, but we don’t have that luxury, and that’s just the way that it is,” Rahal said.

However, he would rather have a second car to help the team get their setups ironed out sooner.

“Yes, it’s difficult, would it be better to be at least a two car team, for sure.  But as I said, we’re not in that position and we’ve got to battle as hard as we can to make sure that we do what we need to do to make the car right and if we do that, we’ll be pretty quick,” said Rahal.

That being said, there is one advantage that Rahal has as part of a one car team in that all of the resources of the team are dedicated to his effort instead of being divided between several cars.

Two cars ideal according to Rahal

“I think that that helps, but two cars is definitely always very manageable, I think to do four cars properly, you have to be the size of a Ganassi or a Penske.  But I think two would be manageable and two would be kind of ideal in my opinion,” Rahal said.

The other single car team is Bryan Herta Autosport, and their efforts are hampered a second time in that their driver is a rookie. Gabby Chaves won the 2014 Indy Lights championship and used his scholarship money to help get the drive with Bryan Herta’s team.  However, Chaves believes his team can get the job done despite not having strength in numbers.

Success takes longer

“It just takes us longer to achieve what everyone else is achieving in half the time, basically, so that’s really the biggest thing is that we can’t get to our optimum point or setup and everything as fast as everyone else,” Chaves said.

After the practice sessions this weekend, Chaves has a lot to be proud about, given that his car was third fastest in the third practice session.

“I think for this week, we look like we’re in pretty good shape in the dry, top three in practice, and we’re pretty competitive, so I think we did a good job, we were able to hit the setup pretty quickly and that definitely helped us move forward,” Chaves said.

Rahal and Chaves will start 11th and 17th, respectively.

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