Sunday, May 10, 2015

At GP Of INDY It's Rayhall vs. Rahal ('RAyHALl') ... Is There An Echo In Here?

Fans walk the frontstretch during the post-race track invasion at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Image Credit: Joe Skibinski via VICS

At GP Of INDY It's Rayhall vs. Rahal ('RAyHALl') ... Is There An Echo In Here?

At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) during the final day of competition during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the only name heard, it seemed, was the sound made by the last name of a one-time Indy 500 winner (1986) - Bobby Rahal. In this case the name heard belonged to two different drivers in separate open-wheel series, although sounding the same, was spelled in two different ways.

Fans observe on track road course action on the mounds at IMS. Image Credit: Dana Garrett via VICS

The first session of the day belonged to a first-time driver in new IndyLights Series (that features a new Dallara racing platform powered by Mazda that looks like disturbingly like the ChampCar DP01 - down to the louvers in the sidepod) by the last name of Rayhall ... Sean Rayhall (8Star Motorsports).

Sean Rayhall leading IndyLights Race 2 at IMS. Image Credit: Tim Holle via VICS

He began the two race event by qualifying third and finishing second in Race 1 where he received a Podium trophy. on this final day of the event weekend, he began Race 2 in P2 along side of season series points leader and polesetter Ed Jones ... drafted his way down the front straight to put on a clean pass in Turn 1 and young Rayhall was never seriously challenged after the second GREEN Flag flew for the balance of the 35 lap race.

Sean Rayhall wins the IndyLights Race 2 at IMS. Image Credit: Doug Mathews via VICS

Post Race Quote:

Sean Rayhall  (#8 Bass Egg and Edvisors-8Star Motorsports): "In my head, that was longer than the six hours I've driven in endurance races! Jack was probably faster than me, but I was trying to save my tires for the end in case he got close. The restart had me nervous but I used a little trick I picked up driving Late Model (stock) cars to keep him back. After that, the only thing that was going through my head was to keep hitting my marks. I never expected this. Racing against guys like Max, RC, Ed, these guys have been doing open-wheel racing for the last five or six years, while I've done endurance racing. I'm inexperienced compared to them; it was an honor yesterday just to be on the podium with them so to be able to win, I'm just blown away. In the end, it's another race car. It's a switch in your head; you go from one to another, you drive different styles and push in different ways but you get to a point where you can flip it on and flip it off."

Sean Rayhall leading IndyLights Race 2 at IMS. Image Credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

He improved all event weekend long at the IMS infield road course where he posted a P5 in Practice 1, a P6 in Practice 2, A P3 in Qualifications, A Podium P2 in Race 1, a P1 in Practice 3, and brought home the Podium hardware in Race 2 with the winner's trophy and bragging rights for next year if he is still driving IndyLights.

P1 Rayhall, P2 Enerson, P3 Chilton at IMS Race 2. Image Credit: IndyLights

As reported by IndyCar:

Rayhall crossed the finish line 4.9438 seconds ahead of RC Enerson (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian). Max Chilton (Carlin) finished third. After seven of 16 races, Ed Jones (Carlin) holds the provisional points lead (176), 14 ahead of Jack Harvey (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian).

After only two races, Sean Rayhall (8Star Motorsports) has P11 in the points (81) out of 14 drivers with points.

Which brings us to the main event of the weekend, the fifth race of the Verizon IndyCar Series - Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and the other Rahal ... Graham Rahal.

This excerpted and edited from The Columbus Dispatch -

IndyCar: Graham Rahal trying to make the best of slower car
By: Tim May - Friday May 8, 2015 10:44 PM

Coming off a stirring run to a second-place finish in the previous IndyCar race, Graham Rahal spoke of renewed momentum for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan race team headed into Saturday’s second Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

He stuck with the momentum on Friday, but after qualifying he wasn’t happy. Neither were most of the other 11 drivers in the 25-car field who are using Honda engines and aerodynamic devices.

Chevrolet drivers smoked them. Team Penske’s Will Power led the way, taking the pole for the race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The “fast six” final qualifying was all Chevy; the top 12 who advanced to second-round qualifying included just one Honda, Jack Hawksworth from the Foyt Racing team, who wound up 11th.

It was like taking a “knife to a gun fight,” said Rahal, who will start 17th.

This year, IndyCar moved from stock bodies for all of the cars to aero kits (the downforce-inducing wings and pods on the cars) designed and produced by the two engine manufacturers in the series. If a team uses Honda engines it also uses the Honda aero kit. The same with Chevy.

Through the first four races and headed into the fifth, all on road or street courses, Chevy aero kits routinely have produced the faster times.

“It’s demoralizing,” Rahal said. “There’s nothing we can do; it’s out of our control. Our team has done the best job, I think, of driving the Honda all year (he’s eighth in points, up from 19th last season), but we’ve got to get the cars better.”

The Chevy drivers know there is a disparity. There is a chance of rain for the race today, which could close that gap.

“If it’s wet, absolutely,” Power said. Honda has “a lot of good drivers in their camp. Right now, they just don’t have their aero kits side of things together. … I hope they bridge that gap. It is more competitive when it’s an even playing field, which it isn’t right now.”

The race was run and it wasn't wet ... just a little messy at first, and fast (only one Full Course YELLOW Flag).

Seven cars were visibly involved in the Turn One incident, at race start, when the pack funneled down into the sharp first corner. Others got banged and bent. Third place starter, Helio Castroneves/No.3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, rear-ended second place starter, Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. At least two cars stalled and had to be started – Jack Hawksworth/No.41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt and Josef Newgarden/No.21 Century 21 CFH Racing Chevrolet. Everyone else continued, eventually, but some had to pit for repairs. Image Credit: Eric Schwarzkopf


Lap 1: GREEN flag at 3:49 p.m. 1-Power leads the field into Turn 1. FULL COURSE CAUTION, contact in Turn 1 involving 9-Dixon, 3-Castroneves, 41-Hawksworth, 5-Hinchcliffe and 21-Newgarden. 3-Castroneves and 5-Hinchcliffe keep going. 9-Dixon, 41-Hawksworth and 21-Newgarden are stopped in Turn 1, assisted by the Holmatro Safety Team, restarted and return to the field.

Lap 2: Pits are open. Pitting are: 25-Wilson (replace front wing), 83-Kimball, 5-Hinchcliffe, 3-Castroneves, 7-Jakes, 9-Dixon (replace front and rear wings), 21-Newgarden (replace rear wing), 18-Huertas, 41-Hawksworth (replace front wing).

Lap 4: GREEN flag. 1-Power leads 22-Pagenaud. 15-Rahal has advanced 11 positions from the start to sixth place.

A photo posted by Edmund Jenks (@the_edje) on

This excerpted and edited from NBC Sports Motorsports Talk -

Graham Rahal bridesmaid again in Grand Prix of Indianapolis
By: Daniel McFadin - May 9, 2015, 7:14 PM EDT

It never rained and Rahal didn’t require its services. Thanks to a Lap 1, Turn 1 crash involving Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Jack Hawksworth and Josef Newgarden, Rahal was able to go from 17th to sixth before he made it to Turn 5 on the opening lap.

“I said I’ll go as far left as they can, I’ll have a great angle to cut to the apex,” Rahal said of his plan for the first turn. “Worst comes to worse I’ll do the shortcut. It’ll be fine. Sure enough it worked perfect. I saw smoke everywhere. Next thing I know I see (Scott Dixon). I got (JR) Hildebrand into four. That definitely went our way.”

Then a strategy of pitting a lap later than the leaders put Rahal into the top three and within reasonable distance of Power. He led nine laps during green flag pit stops, but afterward was never able to make up full deficit due to lapped cars.

“I feel good about it. We’ve come away from finishing first by like three seconds combined,” Rahal said. “This tiny little one car team is fighting with Penske and that feels pretty good.”

It should feel good, though finishing second is undoubtedly getting old.

Still, Rahal, now fifth in points with his single-car team, has multiple podiums in a season for the first time since the 2011 campaign when Rahal notched three with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Angie's List #GPofINDY Podium (middle - Will Power P1, right - Graham Rahal P2, left - Juan Pablo Montoya P3) - This is Will Power’s first victory this season and 25th of his career, which ties him with Gordon Johncock for 15th place on the all-time list. It comes in Power’s 144th career start. Power is the fifth different winner in as many races in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season (following Juan Pablo Montoya, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden). The #GPofINDY race featured six different leaders (Will Power, Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimball, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe and James Jakes). None of the six led a lap in the inaugural 2014 Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Graham Rahal finished second for the second straight race, tying his season-best finish. Image Credit: Eric Schwarzkopf via FB

This Verizon IndyCar Series season now has had 5 races with the last two showing great promise for the rest of 2015. Some complaints about the lack of Mushroom Busting or Trailing Turbulence which reduces an ease in passing with one of the most vocal drivers in the on-air post race comments being Sebastien Bourdais (starting P7 and finished P4).

Don't tell this to Graham Rahal (race's most improved 15 positions - started P17 - Finished P2) or, Helio Castroneves (started P3, booted Dixon in Turn 1, dropped back to P23 or P24 on Lap 10 pitstop, finished P6), or for that matter, the Verizon IndyCar Series PR department who is boasting 192 passes for position on the track, 11 lead changes and six leaders in the 82-lap race.

Podium Press Conference >>>

No matter how it's spelled (Rayhall / Rahal) it all sounds the same and that "RAyHALl" sound heard throughout the paddocks, for most all of the day, Saturday, is the sound the of success few other names have at the 2nd annual Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

What a way to start the "Month Of May" at IMS. Next up ... practice for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 will begin May 11 (

Qualifications will be May 16 - ABC @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm ET and May 17 - ABC @ 1:00 pm - 3:00pm ET - includes V E R I Z O N  I N D Y C A R  S E R I E S – Q U A L I F Y I N G – F A S T 9 (

Coors Light Carb Day will be May 22 (

The INDY 500 race will be May 24 and televised at 12:00pm ET on ABC Networks and

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Sean Rayhall, Graham Rahal, Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Month of May, 8Star Motorsports, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, IndyLights, IndyCar, Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, RC Enerson, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Curb-Agajanian, Max Chilton, Carlin, The EDJE, Verizon IndyCar Series, Indianapolis Motor Speedway,

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