Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two Questions With Graham Rahal - VERSUS

Two Questions With Graham Rahal - VERSUS

Actually, we at The EDJE had a few more questions that we would have loved to ask Graham, but VERSUS has a business model that serves a larger audience than just Edmund Jenks.

In fact, the above interview was part of a list of questions VERSUS asked from "... notes from The EDJE" that made up a larger exclusive video package produced by VERSUS in order to kick off the 2009 IndyCar Series championship season.

Here is an interview I had with Graham Rahal before the last ChampCar race held at Long Beach on turn 8. The Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame induction ceremony had concluded and this small crowd had gathered in what appeared to be a track inspection and review process. Graham Rahal, Jonny Summerland and engineers from Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing were discussing bumps and other traits of the track at this corner on Pine Avenue (the one that begins at the back straightaway), and Graham decided to break off the discussion and give an impromptu interview. At the time, Graham had just won the first street course race of the first "Merged" ICS season in 2008 and Graham had mentioned in a previous interview that teams that were transitioning into the IRL from the ChampCar World Series had trouble getting parts for the Dallara cars they had been assigned ... especially OVAL racing parts.

Racing parts are not an issue this season and, in fact, the racing has developed some amount of parity in this young season. The first race of the season saw a front row filled with two of the eight drivers that were ChampCar Transition rookies to the IRL last season with Graham Rahal in the Newman/Haas/Lanigan, McDonald's sponsored Dallara holding down P1 and Justin Wilson driving for the Sonny's BBQ sponsored Dale Coyne Dallara in P2.

Graham Rahal answers questions from Bill Zahren of Pressdog.com. Now that you are the leader of the team at Newman/Haas/Lanigan .... and, What is the biggest challenge?

Graham Rahal answers questions from Will McCarty of IsitMayYet.com. Growing up, which drivers had an impact on you ... and, What do you expect from your team ... on OVALS?

Graham Rahal answers questions from James Black of 16thandGeorgetown.com. What do you expect out of the month of May this year at the INDY 500 ... and, Is there any added pressure following N/H/L/Racing's legacy of 8 Championships and 100 races won with the like of Tracy, Fittipaldi, Mansell, Mario and Michael Andretti?

The list of questions that did not make the VERSUS Exclusive Blogger Interview cut from "... note from The EDJE" were as follows:

Questions For Graham Rahal – VERSUS Interview 3-24-2009:

The first truly unified test of the new IRL for 2009 was held about a month ago and a couple of questions come to mind:

First off - How did it feel to be at a test where the Dallara and the IndyCar Series team were the only major overriding issues?
Robert Doornbos ("Bobby D"), a fellow CCWS competitor, Panoz DP01 pilot, and 2007 Rookie of the Year will be joining Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing for the season this year:

Question Used
- Will he be able to catch on as quickly to the nuances of the Dallara and the competition in the IRL as he did at ChampCar?

What are your general impressions of Robert as a teammate? ... "Bobby D" as competition?
Milka Duno is a transferee to NHLR from an "Established" IRL program:

Have you seen any transitional differences between her understanding of CCWS culture and her approach to the IRL way?

What are your general impressions of Milka as a teammate? ... as competition?
You have had a very interesting association with open wheel racing and the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team in terms of the international exposure delivered by the teammates you have had to share space with (Bourdais, Doornbos, Duno, and etc.) - How has this effected the way you look at the job of driving competitively, say over other pure American racing teams in the IndyCar Series?
It has to feel good to open the 2009 season - First, at a track you became the first ChampCar transition team driver to post a win and personally won your first IRL race - St. Petersburg and second, at a venue you have an intimate knowledge with your shared CCWS experience with the rest of the Transition Team drivers (this includes your teammate "Bobby D") at Long Beach. Looking forward to Long Beach:

Your father, Bobby Rahal, will be honored in the 4th annual installation of the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame along with Al Unser, Jr. - Have you had a chance to talk to your father about his reaction to this event and honor?

How does he feel about being able to catch up and share this event with Al Unser, Jr. and the rest of the Unser family?

What is your personal reflection on the Long Beach Walk Of Fame event?

How do you think the Dallara chassis will perform on its maiden voyage at "The Beach"?

Will the pre-race "walking the track" inspection be any different for driving a Dallara than it would be inspecting the track when driving a Panoz DP01?

The "Established" teams and drivers will be with a car they know but racing at a track they will be seeing for the first time at Long Beach: How great of an advantage will the former CCWS drivers and teams have at Long Beach? Will it be a large advantage or small advantage? Why?
Last year, there was a question mark placed on the availability of parts for the IRL Dallara chassis to the teams that were transitioning from the ChampCar World Series in the merger (especially parts related to the performance of the chassis on ovals), do your foresee the shortage of parts as being a potential problem this year?

Question Used (in part) - Correct me if I am wrong - I believe that this is the first time NHLR has fielded three cars for a full season! How will it affect team resources to be a driver racing on a three car team this season? Do you have any concerns?

Good luck and great fortune to you, your father (yes, I know he is a competitor), and the teammates of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

Edmund Jenks
The EDJE (pronounced edge)
Feature Page Manager/Editor – Motorsports – NowPublic

The 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is just around the corner and we all in Los Angeles, can not wait to welcome a unified North American Open Wheel Racing championship series to our house!

The history comes full circle with Al Unser, Jr. and Bobby Rahal being inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, Al Unser, Jr. making apperaences as the Grand Marshal of the event, and eight Transition Players filling the field having a better knowledge of the track than most of the other drivers while Dallaras appear for the first time on the streets of Long Beach and a are able to receive the checkered flag on Shoreline Drive!

... notes from The EDJE

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