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IndyCar Season Preview: Graham Rahal

Photo credit: Ned Leone

#38 Service Central Dallara-Honda, Chip Ganassi Racing

Born: January 4, 1989

Home: Columbus, Ohio

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: After a part-time 2009 season, Rahal joined a new Chip Ganassi Racing effort housed in Don Prudhomme’s old race shop. He scored three podium finishes, at Sao Paulo, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee, and finished ninth in points after ranking as high as fifth.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: The new Ganassi team started slow, and Rahal ranked 21st in points after the first three races. He suffered three DNFs, including a fuel pump failure in the second half of the Texas doubleheader and first-lap crashes at both Edmonton and Loudon.

SEASON OUTLOOK: Despite operating out of a different shop from Ganassi’s top drivers, Rahal is entitled to all of the same information and will retain his key personnel for 2012. He’s part of Honda’s flagship team, something that can’t be emphasized enough, and a second year together should give the team an opportunity to get to the next level.

That’s a step that Rahal absolutely has to take. He only led laps in two races all season and was, in the end, a consistently mid-pack driver who benefitted in the standings because so many other drivers had streaky years. We know from his time with Newman/Haas that he can win at the highest level, especially when turning both left and right, and there’s no shortage of money behind him. He just needs to put everything together.

– Chris Leone

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