Racing Mania begins the 2013 season officially! We kick off the IndyCar Preview series with an interview with Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver Graham Rahal.
Q: First of all, thank you Graham for doing this! First thing I want to ask you is what are your thoughts on the 2013 IndyCar schedule. Positives and negatives? Which tracks would you like to see added in the future.
G: I would like to see more short, flat ovals like New Hampshire again. I would like to see Road America of course. Laguna Seca would be great. It’s exciting to have Houston back and I’m excited for Pocono as well. I’m going to miss Edmonton and a few others. Edmonton was always a place I enjoyed going to so its disappointing that it’s not on the schedule.
Q: What does it mean to you to drive for your fathers race team. Do you feel there is added pressure now?
G: I think the pressure is always the same no matter what or where I go. The desire to succeed and win is the same no matter who I drive for but if and when we do win, or have a podium, its going to feel pretty good for myself and my dad. And I’m really looking forward to that!
Q: We know that James Jakes will be your teammate for the upcoming season, what does this mean to you and to the team itself?
G: It’s great for our team. We are building and growing in a hurry and I think people are recognizing that. Frankly that’s really exciting for us. I think it’s a matter of this team wanting to get back to where we once were and when I say that I mean it used to be a three-car team full time. This is a sign of great things to come in the future. James and I get along great and I’m looking forward to working with him and growing this program. I think we will see a lot of success out of him.
Q: Looking at sponsorship for a minute, do we know anything else on sponsors? I know that the RLLR squad has confirmed Midas for Indy. I must say that is an amazing livery.
G: Of the TBC Retail Group brands, primarily you will see Midas, Big O Tires and Speedee throughout most of the season and that’s because those are the franchise-based programs that TBC Retail has to offer. The franchisees have always been great and supportive of our program. Everybody has seen the Midas scheme but I think the Big O Tires livery looks equally good so I’m looking forward to seeing that on track.
Q: What things do you have to improve on as a driver for the upcoming season.
G: I think there is quite a lot that I have to improve on but I think that Item Number One is qualifying. I’ve got to qualify better to give myself a shot. In the races last year generally we always moved forward but we’ve got to start higher to give ourselves a shot to win. If you start tenth or twelfth it makes it difficult to get by all these guys whereas if you start in the top-five life is a lot easier.
2012 Qualifying Statistics: Graham Rahal
Q: Other than Indianapolis, which race would you want to win this season the most and why?
I would love to win them all. I can’t say that there are any in particular. Winning Mid-Ohio would be great because its home. Texas would be nice because that got away from me last year but I’m not going to say there is one. There are a lot of race tracks that I would love to win at.
Q: Going back to October, what was your stance on the firing of Randy Bernard and do you like the way things are heading with the new management?
G: I don’t have a stance. That’s not my business to get involved with. I like the way the series is moving forward. I think that Mark Miles is a superb guy. His reputation in the sports world is unparalleled.
Q: Out of the ovals, road courses and street courses, name one track from each discipline that you think you need to improve on for the future?
Oval: I would say Iowa. I have to get better on the short ovals. Iowa is one that I haven’t excelled at.
Road/Street: Of the road and street course, it would be Long Beach. I’ve run well there but not qualified well there so I have got to figure out how to make that happen.
Q: Thanks for doing this Graham, just one more question. Who do you think will be the hardest driver to beat this year for the championship and why?
G: Will Power or Scott Dixon. Those are the two guys that stand out to me as the toughest.
The opinions that were stated are not from any of the Racing Mania contributors.