September 11, 2018

Rahal Heads to Sonoma Raceway for the IndyCar Season Finale

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Grand Prix of Sonoma – Sonoma Raceway
Pre-Race Notes
Season-Finale of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series


DATE: September 14-16, 2018

PRACTICE BROADCASTS: Live on with analysis from the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (AAPIRN) and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel ( on Friday beginning at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET and Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. Also on the INDYCAR 18 app.

ADDED BROADCAST: Practice 2 will be live on NBCSN on Friday, September 14 at 6 PM ET.

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Same day delayed coverage on NBCSN, Saturday, September 15 beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Live at 6 PM ET Saturday, September 15 on the AAPIRN, the INDYCAR18 app and (timing & scoring + live analysis).

RACE BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN, Sunday, September 16 beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET and on the INDYCAR 18 app. The race will also air live on the AAPIRN, Sirius 214, XM 209 and

TRACK LAYOUT: 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course
RACE LENGTH: 85 laps / 202.73 miles

2017 WINNER: Simon Pagenaud
2017 POLESITTER: Josef Newgarden (1:15.5205 / 113.691 mph)

RAHAL’S BEST SONOMA START/FINISH: 5th / 2nd – both in 2016 with RLL; will be his 11th Indy car race here
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES START/FINISH: Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009, Kansas (oval) 2009, Detroit Race 1 (street) 2017 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008, Fontana & Mid-Ohio 2015, Texas 2016, Detroit Race 1 & Race 2 2017

RLL’S BEST START/ FINISH AT SONOMA: 5th in 2016 (Rahal) / 2nd in 2005 (Buddy Rice) and 2016 (Rahal)




The 2018 Grand Prix of Sonoma race will mark the 11th Indy car event for RLL here. The highest start for the team here is fifth by Graham Rahal in 2016 and the highest finish is second place by Buddy Rice in 2005 and Graham Rahal in 2016. Prior to the 2018 event, the team prepared a total of 17 Indy car entries for drivers Buddy Rice (2005-2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Danica Patrick (2005-2006), Jeff Simmons (2006), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-2008), Takuma Sato (2012), James Jakes (2013), Zachary Claman De Melo (2017) and Graham Rahal (2013-2017). The team has earned two podiums (2nd – Rice 2005, Rahal 2015), two top-five’s and six top-10 finishes at the track. The No. 15 Total entry for Graham Rahal.


Double points will again be awarded for the Grand Prix of Sonoma. One-hundred points will be awarded to the winner of a double-points race, with the runner-up receiving 80 points and the third-place finisher receiving 70 points. The scale decreases to 10 points for the 25th-place finisher and lower. Bonus points will be awarded to the pole winner (one point) and for leading the most race laps (two points) and leading at least one lap (one point).


The 2018 Grand Prix of Sonoma will be Graham Rahal’s 11th Indy car race here. His best start is fifth place and best finish is second – both in 2016 with RLL. He has earned two top-five finishes and six top-10’s in 10 races. In 2017, he entered the Sonoma race seventh in points and moved to sixth in season-ending standings after finishing sixth. This year, Rahal arrives after a season-best finish of second place at St. Pete and a total of 12 top-10 finishes to rank eighth in series point standings with a total of 378. He is 50 points behind sixth place Ryan Hunter-Reay and 46 ahead of 12th place Marco Andretti.
“Sonoma has always been a tough track for me personally but I have always had good results there. I probably have more top-10’s there than almost anywhere else in my career. It’s an important race with double points on the line. It’s going to be important to have a really solid run there. We can move all the way up to sixth place but we can also move back quite a ways. We’re going to keep our eyes and minds focused forward and try to move up in points. It has been a tough season. I cannot say that I’m pleased with our results but I am pleased with the effort. I have seen a lot of effort and heart from our team and I think that’s going to pay off for us in the long run.”


Graham tested at Sonoma Raceway last Thursday with Team Penske, among others. Many other drivers and teams will test this Thursday before the official race event begins on Friday. Testing last week enabled the engineers time to analyze the data prior to returning to Sonoma Raceway this week.

“The test went okay,” said Rahal. “We tried a lot of different things versus focused specifically on setting a lap time. We didn’t get to run as much as we wanted in the afternoon. We made a lot of big, long changes but the guys did a great job getting through it all. It was a long, tough day for everyone but as we come to a close on the season we really need to try everything we possibly can. We will go back to the drawing board and return to Sonoma for the race with something slightly different. Penske has been the standard there so from a competitive standpoint, I think we will be okay be we need to find a little bit more to end the season strong.”

Four drivers have a mathematical chance to win the championship. Scott Dixon leads with 598 points. Alexander Rossi is second with 569 (-29) and Will Power and reigning champion Josef Newgarden are tied for third with 511 (-87).

“From the championship perspective, however it ends up, there will be a great champion. Someone that is obviously very deserving of the honor,” said Rahal. “Alexander Rossi has had an amazing year and so has Dixie (Scott Dixon) and (Will) Power. It really could be anybody’s championship at the end of this thing.”


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