Making it as a single-car team in IndyCar

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport are making it work as one-car teams.

Making it as a single-car team in IndyCar
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Oriol Servia, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Oriol Servia, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Oriol Servia, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
Gabby Chaves, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Gabby Chaves, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Gabby Chaves, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Gabby Chaves, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda
Gabby Chaves, Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

INDIANAPOLIS - It’s never easy to go into a knife fight with only your fists, but if you know how to use your weapons, they can be very efficient.

Such is the case with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport.

They are the only full time single-car teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series, but for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, the Rahal team has expanded its operation to add Oriol Servia, who will run alongside Graham Rahal.

Servia was upbeat about his team’s performance so far this season, going against the juggernauts of Penske, Ganassi and Andretti who own a combined 14 of the 33-car field.

“The truth is that they’ve been doing great as a one car team this season, it’s hard to argue that, two seconds in the last two races that they could have easily won, so they obviously are figuring out things on their own,” Servia said.

You don't 'have to have two cars'

“As everybody’s seen, this little single car team has been doing okay this year, so I don’t think you necessarily have to have two cars, I think you can be successful as one, but you know this year is a vital year with all the aero kits and everything going on, I mean data is key. If you were like a P or an A or a G, you have an advantage for sure, and we don’t have that but I think like I said so far I think it’s worked out okay,” Rahal explained.

Servia was teammates in the past with Graham at Newman/Haas/Lanigan racing and even qualified on the front row in 2011 but feels that this year is his best shot with the car he has.

“I feel I have the best shot I’ve ever had. The year at N/H, the effort was maybe more consolidated because we were together the whole season and it’s people I’ve also worked with in the past, but there’s been something really good about how I’ve felt the car this month. I don’t know, I’ve felt from day one very comfortable with it, the team gave me great engineers that they have, it’s just been working really well. I think I may have the best shot I’ve had honestly up till now.”

Servia, a veteran of the sport

Rahal was very complimentary of his Spanish teammate.

“He’s a very consistent driver, and obviously very capable. He’s not a guy that’s going to put your team at risk or your cars or anything else, he’s always going to do a good job for you, and that’s the thing I think people haven’t valued enough about Oriol and his talents over the years. I mean, every time he comes into a situation like this, it gives you confidence because you know you can rely on him,” Rahal said.
Rahal also added that there seemed to be an attitude shift in the team regarding the second car.

“There were a couple of young guys that came up to me during the start of this year that were trying to get a ride with us for the second car and they were asking me why they didn’t get the nod by my dad, and I said, ‘Well, look, the key is, no matter how we look at this it has to take the team forward,’ and Oriol is a guy that can do that.”

Funding for second car doesn't materialize for BHA

Looking at the only single car operation in the Indianapolis 500 this year, Bryan Herta Autosport has not had an easy road coming into the Month of May. Funding for Jay Howard’s ride never materialized, leaving the team with only one car in Sunday’s race, but that hasn’t deterred Gabby Chaves from trying to get the maximum out of his car.

“[We’re] trying to be as sufficient as we can with our work, trying to minimize going in circles, if you will, and really just try to validate every change we make and decide whether thats a change we want to pursue and keep working on or right away decide it didn’t work and let’s go try something else and we just did that all month, try to maximize our time,” Chaves said.

The advantage of having a team owner who is a former driver

What may help Chaves more than some others is that his team owner has driven here recently, and his experience is invaluable, especially for a rookie.

“Obviously the engineers, they try to make the car go faster from an engineering point of view, but with Bryan, it’s more about different race scenarios, how to make the passes, what the car wants, and then I can then translate that and talk with my engineers about it and they can then make that happen into a change for the car,” Chaves said.

Chaves was also upbeat about his prospects for the race despite having many factors working against him.

“It’s hard to say but I’d like to think we have the same odds as everybody else to win the race, you know. I think if we’ve got a strong race car, all we can do is do our job, work our way to the front and be there at the end, you never know what’s going to happen here.”

shares
comments
The Andretti Curse - Will it end in 2015?

Previous article

The Andretti Curse - Will it end in 2015?

Next article

The Indy 500 audition

The Indy 500 audition
Load comments
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Prime

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after sweeping around the outside of Alex Palou on the penultimate lap in a thrilling climax. In one race, he validated Michael Shank's and Jim Meyer's faith in him, and Helio himself discovered there's life after Penske after all.

IndyCar
Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious? Prime

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

IndyCar
May 25, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Prime

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there? By David Malsher-Lopez.

Formula 1
May 19, 2021