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Rahal hopeful of no fuel mileage racing in Long Beach

Graham Rahal says the efficiency of the new IndyCar aerokit should mean that this Sunday’s 44th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will allow drivers to race without too much thought given to fuel mileage.

Rahal hopeful of no fuel mileage racing in Long Beach
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

At this event two years ago, drivers were ‘cruising’, relatively speaking, in order to stick to a strict fuel number in order to make the 80-lap race on only two pitstops. IndyCar responded by adding five laps last year “which wasn’t enough,” according to Rahal.

However, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver believes the issue may have been resolved by the vastly improved fuel efficiency produced by the new car’s reduced drag. This was shown in Phoenix, with most drivers able to reduce their number of pitstops – although higher tire degradation prompted many to make a late dash an extra stop near the end of the race.

“You look at Phoenix from a strategy standpoint,” said Rahal. “Last year if you were going to do on three you had to hit specific numbers, and most guys couldn't hit it. This year you could pit on lap 20 and make it on three. The fuel economy in this car has just increased that much.

“There is no doubt [Long Beach] is, no problem, a two stopper. Last year I did a two, [Scott Dixon] bailed off of a two and lost the race, but guys were kind of split two, three, whatever. This year, from what I've seen, it's a two.

“As long as I've been racing here, it's a fuel race. I remember in the Champ Car days, we'd be clutching and coasting into Turn 1 on the first lap, that's how bad it was. Finally we're getting to a point where we can all go race, which is going to be, I think, a lot more fun for everybody, because while a fuel strategy race is boring for fans to watch, it's even more boring to drive, so I'm hopeful that those days are done.

“But then again, you look at tire degradation. If tire deg is bad… which it should be here this weekend, I might switch things up if we have a yellow.

“There's a whole bunch of different things that go into it, but from a fuel standpoint we should be able to go race.”

 

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