INDIANAPOLIS – Graham Rahal has said the last few years that being a small team has hurt him in the essence that they’re having to double their work load without a teammate in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Rahal, has had to do all the race setups, qualifying setups, race runs, tests, etc. The only information they get is from him.
Other teams, well they can split those duties up. They can have different teammates do different setups, then debrief to see what works the best.
That hasn’t been an option unfortunately for Rahal.
But, he does have a teammate for next weekend’s Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network). Is it a coincidence that Rahal’s pace has been up in practice this week and has a realistic shot at making the Fast Nine this weekend?
“First of all it’s been awesome to have Oriol (Servia) because I think from the first laps that we turned our feel of the car was identical,” Rahal said to me during his media availability at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday. “To have a guy like Oriol confirm that, it’s not that anybody on this team doubts us, me ,or the team in general, but it helps a lot that we can hammer down the same path. I think we’ve made a lot of big strides.
“When you look at the no-tow sheets the cars are built very well. Our guys have done a tremendous job putting these cars together. When I hear from the tech officials when they say that we have the nicest cars out there, that means a lot. Our guys take a lot of pride in that.”
You can genuinely tell that Rahal and Servia are phenomenal teammates together. The duo clearly works. If they ever get to a point where they can keep a second car around longer, Rahal says Servia is the only guy he wants as his teammate.
“Oriol is a great addition and I think dad (Bobby Rahal) can tell you I’ve been pushing to get him with us. We don’t just need someone to be here driving the second car, it’s extremely beneficial to have Oriol driving it. The feel has always been the same on any type of circuit.”
Servia equally feels the love. He notes that they’re chemistry and similar driving styles are bar none better than other teammates within the series.
“Graham (Rahal) is always the most gracious with his words to me, I am a good teammate but that’s because he’s a good teammate,” Servia said of their relationship. “You can’t be a good teammate to a not good teammate. You all know he’s a very mature guy and as driver he’s been mature for a long time. We both understand that you need to be good teammates to stay up front. Many of the teams out there that are multicars, they play out there that they’re good teammates but they’re not. I think that’s a bullet that we have that we work better than those other bigger teams.
This dynamic duo has equated to a strong month so far. But, can it help Rahal qualify better?
Rahal has qualified 10th, sixth, 21st, 17th and 20th respectively this season. Last year, he started 26th here. He knows with so many points on the line for qualifying, a top nine starting spot is imperative for his hopes of a great finish in the final standings.
“Last year in May, we lost 89 points to Alexander Rossi. 89. That’s two full races,” Rahal said of points at Indy in May. “We still beat them in points, but the thing is, that’s very hard to overcome. If we can be more competitive, I think we led ourselves down a bad path a year ago and I can see we’re a lot better off already this year. My worst ever start here is 29th and it was my best ever finish. So as far as that’s concerned I’m not that worried. But, it would make our lives a lot easier to start up front.”
This is a race winning group, one that can easily be sipping the milk in victory lane next Sunday.