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The One That Got Away

by TMS Media Relations | Jun 05, 2013

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal

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Nearly 365 days have passed since last year’s Firestone 550 IZOD IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, but for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal it seems just like yesterday.

For Rahal, last year’s Firestone 550 remains the race that got away. Poised to capture his second career IZOD IndyCar Series victory as he was in the lead with two laps remaining, Rahal brushed the wall in Turn 4 and spoiled his shot at a win. The memory of having a victory slip through his grasp is still not lost by Rahal.

“It’s still a little bit of a blur,” Rahal said of last year’s race where the bobble gave the win to Justin Wilson and a runner-up finish for himself. “I can’t say that I’ve gone and watched it.”

This weekend’s Firestone 550 – set to broadcast live in primetime on ABC-TV beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT – offers Rahal the chance at vindication and an opportunity to snap a winless streak that stretches 83, which dates back to 2008 at St. Petersburg when he became the youngest winner in open-wheel history.

Last year’s agonizing finish may continue to run through his head, but it is certainly far from haunting Rahal. Instead, it is serving as motivation as he helps his new team – co-owned by his father and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal – pursue its first victory of the season. 

"It always will be one that got away from me until I win my next one," Rahal said. "Then I won't think about it. There are a lot of cases where I look back and it's frustrating that you didn't get to see it through. This is certainly one of them.

“It would have been nice to win and get rid of all the questions of when I'll win again, and all that sort of thing. But I think it adds fuel to the fire to come back here and do a good job this year. I’m extremely excited with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan boys. I think we are going to put a great car on the track and we’ll have a good chance to win.”

This season has provided a fresh start for Rahal and the chance to partner with his father for an entire season for the first time in his six-year INDYCAR career. Rahal, after spending the two previous seasons with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, agreed to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing during the offseason. The team features co-owners Bobby Rahal, CBS Late Night Show host David Letterman and businessman Mike Lanigan.

The move to create the father/son team comes after what has been a roller coaster ride during Rahal’s five previous seasons. He spent his first two seasons in the IZOD IndyCar Series with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing before a 2010 season that saw him drive for four different teams – Sarah Fisher Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Rahal Letterman Racing and Newman Haas Racing – during a 12-race span.

Finding stability with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has him confident that a return trip to Victory Lane is not far off.

“When we first sat down and discussed this as a possibility, it just made the most sense for us to work together to get Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing back to where the team was in their glory days and there is no doubt that we can get there,” Rahal said. “This is probably the most excited I have been to join any team because I see the potential behind what my dad and the rest of the team have been able to accomplish over the last year with (previous RLL Racing driver) Takuma (Sato).”

Tickets for the Firestone 550 are still available and start as low as $35 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. To purchase tickets, call the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

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