Following a season filled with speed, potential and bad luck, Graham Rahal is excited to get back after it this year in search of success.
“I think we, as a team, have been working hard the past couple of years to get ourselves in a good position,” he commented. “Now, we’re going to continue to work hard to make sure that we put ourselves in a great position to have some success this year. I’m ready to get going and see what the potential of the group is and try to have success and win some races.”
The new season also brings a new twist for the Verizon IndyCar Series with the new aero kits that are set to be introduced. Like the fans, the drivers have yet to see what the manufacturers have come up with, but no doubt are excited.
“I think it’s pretty cool that the aero kits will be coming out,” Rahal commented. “I’m thrilled to get behind the wheel and drive one of these cars. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it’s going to be a lot different than what we’ve had before, but should be pretty exciting. So I’m looking forward to getting out there and giving them a shot.”
Known what he’s capable of as a driver and what the team is capable of based on the speed shown, the expectation heading into the year is simple – be up front in contention each week and win races.
“Last year, we had a lot of moments of brilliance, but things tended to go wrong. This year, I think we need to fulfill those and follow through and make sure they happen,” he expressed. “The expectation is certainly high, but there is no other reason for us to do this if the expectation isn’t that way.”
Last year, the season didn’t meet those expectations, but rather was met with “frustration and disappointment” as Rahal finished 19th in points with only one podium finish – second at Belle Isle.
“We had a lot of potential, we had a great sponsor in the National Guard. I felt that we should’ve done a better job, and obviously there’s a lot of people that have been critical of us – fairly so – but I think that we let ourselves down,” Rahal commented. “And anytime things were going right, we somehow – whether it was different mechanical errors or my mistake in Houston hitting Kanaan with not too much time left in the race and running third at the time and having a good shot at that one. I let that one slip through. Disappointment. I think we should’ve, and could’ve done a much better job.
“As I look at it, we finished 19th in points, however we left a good 100 and 120 points on the table that could’ve moved us right up in the top 10. I think that’s where we should’ve been. So, you got to learn from the mistakes that you made before and make sure you don’t do it again.”
One of the focuses for improvement heading into the season is improving the camaraderie within the team so they’re all on the same page, as Rahal feels the team could work better together to make the success happen.
“I think this year everybody has to hunker down and work together and the success will come,” he said. “I think we have a group of people that are committed to the team, to winning, and to committed to giving 110 percent all the time, and I’m not sure that we’ve had that before and been in this position.”
The goal is simple – win a race. If Rahal is able to make his return to victory lane in 2015, it’d mark his first win since 2008, and certainly a memorable moment for him.
“Frankly, I couldn’t describe what it would mean,” Rahal answered when asked what a win would mean to him. “It’s been a long time, and there’s been a lot of hard work put into this program by myself and very little I’ve gotten out of it. We’re gonna work hard, and we’re gonna make sure that everything we do that we’re committed to getting ourselves back in that position. The relief that it would bring to me as an individual, could not put into words.
“Like I said, I’ve taken a lot of heat over the years – some fairly so, some unfairly so – I received it, and it’s one of those things that’d it’d mean more to me to silence all the doubters than you could possibly imagine.”