Rahal expects to be in IndyCar title contention in 2022

Graham Rahal is sounding bullishly confident about his and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team’s prospects ahead of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season.

Rahal expects to be in IndyCar title contention in 2022
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Rahal is about to start his 16th season at the top level of U.S. open-wheel racing, as IndyCar gets underway at St. Petersburg this weekend. It’s a venue where Graham, son of three-time champion Bobby Rahal, scored his first win at St. Pete in 2008, but his sixth and most recent triumph came at Detroit five years ago.

However, as RLL expands to three full-time cars this year, with Jack Harvey and rookie Christian Lundgaard joining the team, Rahal believes the team has made strong progress.

“Off season prep has been really good,” he said. “As a team, we got a little bit of a late start getting the staff together that we needed going from two to three cars, but I think our guys did a tremendous job. We were very fortunate to not only hire very good people, but people that fit in really well in our system, people that fit in really well with all of the other engineers and the mechanics. I think one of the things we’re fortunate about at RLL right now is that the team itself has a great reputation and is attracting a lot of young, good talent and so we’ve been able to add that this winter and are excited to go racing.”

Rahal went on to say: “My expectations and goals are the same as every year, just with a little more intensity.  We want to win, and we want to win right away. St. Pete here we come.

“I definitely think we are a championship contender; we should have been last year. Obviously, the double points race at Indy [500] really, really hurt us [when his car shed a wheel following a pit stop and crashed into the wall] but we’re just going to make sure we don’t have those mishaps again.

“I expect us to be in championship contention.”

Asked what his mindset was going into this season, the 33-year-old from New Albany, OH. responded: “My mindset as I’ve gotten older is shifting. Every year is highly important to me, every year it’s really critical that we go out and we make the most of it.

“We try to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way and try to perform well, whether it be on a test day or on a race day. We want to be up front, and we want to be competitive.

“I felt that last year we ended our season really, really well and I think it sets us up nicely as we go into this season and try to carry on that momentum. The guys were doing an amazing job in the pits, we were racing extremely well and so we just want to keep that going into St. Pete. We’re excited; we feel that we are one of the cars to beat and feel like we’re going to be up front consistently and hopefully get some wins early in the season and carry that momentum throughout the whole year.”

Rahal, who finished sixth in a 17-car test at Sebring last Monday, joked that his pace there made him worry about his St. Pete prospects.

“The pre-season test at Sebring was actually really good for us,” he said. “We were very competitive there – which was abnormal, which kind of makes me nervous, because normally we’re not good there but we go to St. Pete and we’re competitive.

“So I expect us to be able to take what we learned there, which was kind of an extension of what we started at the end of 2021, and I expect us to go to St. Pete and be very strong…”

“It’s critical for our team to learn how to win again and I say that because we have been [in contention] a lot. We have been in a place to win a lot. We have not been able to get the luck on our side so I’m certainly hopeful that in 2022 things change and we can get those bounces.”

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