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Graham Rahal closing on new IndyCar deal with RLL

Graham Rahal closing on new IndyCar deal with RLL

The 34-year-old has driven for the family Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team since 2013, and made 275 starts to date since 2007 for teams including Newman-Haas Racing, Sarah Fisher Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing.

Rahal says his Honda-powered #15 car has sponsorship for the entirety of next season, which means there is “zero pressure this off-season” and is “in a good place to go forward”.

However, he explained that he’s still working through his contract and has set a self-imposed deadline.

“Next week’s my goal,” said Rahal, whose father and team co-owner Bobby won three IndyCar titles and the 1986 Indianapolis 500. “Honestly, it’s on me right now.

“I told everybody – it’s the truth – I started negotiating with dad. He got really uncomfortable and backed off, said, ‘I can’t do this.’ So, I’ll get with Mike [Lanigan, co-team owner] next week.”

One of the more intriguing parts of this process for Rahal is not going through a management company to negotiate his contract. Instead, he is handling it on his own.

“I found it was best to go off on my own,” Rahal said. “I felt like I was doing a lot of the work anyway, so I might as well do it.

“At the point I’m at in my career, it just made the most sense. But having said that, it’s a different environment when you sit across the table on a serious conversation and really hash things out.

“The family relationship’s one thing, but when you get to the business side, it is more of a challenge.

“The one thing I respect my dad the most about is he genuinely treats it like, when business is business, it’s business. I don’t think there’s any flaw.

“In fact, I think he beats me up more than everybody else because I think he feels like he has to. But I’ll get with Mike this week and we’ll see what happens.

“I don’t know. I don’t know exactly where it’s going to end up term length or any of those sorts of details, but it’s all good.”

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Rahal has enjoyed a slight resurgence as of late with poles at the Indianapolis road course and Portland in his last three outings, finishing second at the former, but has endured a rollercoaster season.

Although he has four additional top-10s, the low points have been exceptionally painful.

He failed to qualify for the Indy 500 with RLL and although he found himself in the race as a substitute to the injured Stefan Wilson, his Dreyer & Reinbold-run machine suffered an issue ahead of the pace laps that put him behind at the start before finishing five laps down in 22nd.

Uncompetitive results at each of the other four oval events, along with crashing out under yellow on the streets of Detroit, prompted Rahal to explain that “there’s a lot of relief that it’s over, frankly”.

Graham Rahal, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet

Graham Rahal, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

“We’ve had a good run lately, but there’s been a lot of bad this year,” he said. “Iowa, obviously Detroit under yellow. Indy 500 was terrible.

“There were a lot of times where we, hell I was looking the other day, we’re 14th in points and that shocked me because I’ve had more DNFs [did not finish] I feel like this year than I’ve had maybe any year. I’m just ready to flip the script a little bit.

“To be honest, I feel like I’m at the point in the season now where I like really need to get my body feeling better. It’s been a lot of aches and pains lately, so I need to, and it’s hard to do in the middle of the season when everything’s happening.

“I think it’s good that we’re here and we can turn the page. I’m excited.

“I know a lot about the schedule next year and I’m excited. I think they’ve done a really good job. It would be good to be re-energised for next year.”

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