Sunday, September 28, 2014

Season Review: Graham Rahal

In a series of blogs that will be featured throughout the offseason, I review and talk about 21 full-time drivers in addition to extended part time drivers (Carpenter and Conway) in an honest and opinionated format. I would ask you to share your opinions on my thoughts as well as your thoughts on the driver and their season. Enjoy:

Graham Rahal
#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

19th in points scoring 345 points.

Best finish: 2nd (Detroit Race #1)
Worst finish: 33rd (Indianapolis)

Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Avg. Start: 14.4
Avg. Finish: 15.0
Change in position: -10

Grade: D

What is there to say about Graham Rahal's season? On one hand, I really do feel for the guy. I just think the car he has is absolutely terrible. He's kind of hitched himself to a shitty wagon at his dad's team. Somewhere between 2012, where Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing showed a lot of pace with Takuma Sato behind the wheel and the last two years they've lost some serious pace.

The team got all of this National Guard money (which they did nothing with and which won't be there in 2015) and some new engineers (specifically veteran and proven-winner Bill Pappas) and they got worse stats compared to 2013 with less full-time entries out there, from P18 to P19. If I'm a potential sponsor being woo'd by the Rahal's for money in 2015, I couldn't possibly find the merit to coughing up $10 million for a failing operation.

To be clear, I like Graham Rahal. The show he put on in Detroit Race #1 and Iowa was great. He does a lot of great things off the track and is one of the most social drivers on Twitter. But ever since joining Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, he's been a bit of a joke. Several bad races, including a P33 at Indianapolis, overshadows the positives they had. The team and Graham said their setups were off in 2013. Were they just off again in 2014? Graham thought that Bill Pappas was the answer after a test in Sebring.

It was clear to RLLR that change was necessary, so they fired their engineering staff, including Pappas. Now where do they go? No engineer is going to want to get poached if they see what happened over the last two years.

And at what point does Graham either move on and try his hand somewhere else? Or does Bobby make the move to go with a different driver? If the team has another rough season in 2015, I think something will have to give.

Graham Rahal - Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images North America

2014 Grades so far:
Mike Conway - B+
Carlos Huertas - D
Graham Rahal - D


Stay tuned for P18 Takuma Sato!

-Matthew Hickey

1 comment:

  1. Yes Rahal had pace in 2012, and they lost it.. when Graham came on board. Well not totally, James Jakes had some good races in 2013. And Fillipi was fast in 2014. Hmm....

    Not really fair to say the team 'did nothing' with the Guard money. They hired some established names at least. They also got the money alte since Panther was suing them, and the season was short. It takes time to turn funding into results, and they didn't have much time. Sadly now that money is probably being used to put the team on life support.

    I feel for the team, some good people there. But Graham is the issue. He can be fast but is not mature enough to be consistently so. If one thing isn't right, he explodes and loses it. Then downhill. Nobody wants to work with him and he will never improve.

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