Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport are making it work as one-car teams.
INDIANAPOLIS - It’s never easy to go into a knife fight with only your fists, but if you know how to use your weapons, they can be very efficient.
Such is the case with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport.
They are the only full time single-car teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series, but for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, the Rahal team has expanded its operation to add Oriol Servia, who will run alongside Graham Rahal.
Servia was upbeat about his team’s performance so far this season, going against the juggernauts of Penske, Ganassi and Andretti who own a combined 14 of the 33-car field.
“The truth is that they’ve been doing great as a one car team this season, it’s hard to argue that, two seconds in the last two races that they could have easily won, so they obviously are figuring out things on their own,” Servia said.
You don't 'have to have two cars'
“As everybody’s seen, this little single car team has been doing okay this year, so I don’t think you necessarily have to have two cars, I think you can be successful as one, but you know this year is a vital year with all the aero kits and everything going on, I mean data is key. If you were like a P or an A or a G, you have an advantage for sure, and we don’t have that but I think like I said so far I think it’s worked out okay,” Rahal explained.
Servia was teammates in the past with Graham at Newman/Haas/Lanigan racing and even qualified on the front row in 2011 but feels that this year is his best shot with the car he has.
“I feel I have the best shot I’ve ever had. The year at N/H, the effort was maybe more consolidated because we were together the whole season and it’s people I’ve also worked with in the past, but there’s been something really good about how I’ve felt the car this month. I don’t know, I’ve felt from day one very comfortable with it, the team gave me great engineers that they have, it’s just been working really well. I think I may have the best shot I’ve had honestly up till now.”
Servia, a veteran of the sport
Rahal was very complimentary of his Spanish teammate.
“He’s a very consistent driver, and obviously very capable. He’s not a guy that’s going to put your team at risk or your cars or anything else, he’s always going to do a good job for you, and that’s the thing I think people haven’t valued enough about Oriol and his talents over the years. I mean, every time he comes into a situation like this, it gives you confidence because you know you can rely on him,” Rahal said.
Rahal also added that there seemed to be an attitude shift in the team regarding the second car.
“There were a couple of young guys that came up to me during the start of this year that were trying to get a ride with us for the second car and they were asking me why they didn’t get the nod by my dad, and I said, ‘Well, look, the key is, no matter how we look at this it has to take the team forward,’ and Oriol is a guy that can do that.”
Funding for second car doesn't materialize for BHA
Looking at the only single car operation in the Indianapolis 500 this year, Bryan Herta Autosport has not had an easy road coming into the Month of May. Funding for Jay Howard’s ride never materialized, leaving the team with only one car in Sunday’s race, but that hasn’t deterred Gabby Chaves from trying to get the maximum out of his car.
“[We’re] trying to be as sufficient as we can with our work, trying to minimize going in circles, if you will, and really just try to validate every change we make and decide whether thats a change we want to pursue and keep working on or right away decide it didn’t work and let’s go try something else and we just did that all month, try to maximize our time,” Chaves said.
The advantage of having a team owner who is a former driver
What may help Chaves more than some others is that his team owner has driven here recently, and his experience is invaluable, especially for a rookie.
“Obviously the engineers, they try to make the car go faster from an engineering point of view, but with Bryan, it’s more about different race scenarios, how to make the passes, what the car wants, and then I can then translate that and talk with my engineers about it and they can then make that happen into a change for the car,” Chaves said.
Chaves was also upbeat about his prospects for the race despite having many factors working against him.
“It’s hard to say but I’d like to think we have the same odds as everybody else to win the race, you know. I think if we’ve got a strong race car, all we can do is do our job, work our way to the front and be there at the end, you never know what’s going to happen here.”