Dallas Motorsports: Graham Rahal

TMS Talk: Graham Rahal and AJ Allmendinger

March, 28, 2013
Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing tests an IndyCar at Texas Motor Speedway and describes what it's like to come back to a track where he believes he should have won last year. The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to TMS for the Firestone 550 on June 8.

Click here to listen.

Team Penske's AJ Allmendinger discusses his rookie oval session at Texas Motor Speedway. Allmendinger will be competing in two IZOD IndyCar Series events this season for Team Penske. The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to TMS for the Firestone 550 on June 8.

Click here to listen.

Jack Roush to be inducted into Texas Motorsports HOF

March, 28, 2013
NASCAR team owner Jack Roush will become the 15th member to be inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame on April 11, Texas Motor Speedway announced Wednesday.

Roush's cars have won a record nine NASCAR Sprint Cup races at TMS and 18 overall checkered flags across NASCAR's three national series. He also swept both Sprint Cup events during TMS' inaugural season (1997).

Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (Racer of the Year), Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch (Maj. General Thomas Sadler Award), IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal (TMS Sportsmanship Award) and iconic motorsports writer Chris Economaki (Bruton Smith Legend Award) will also be honored during the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame gala on April 11.

From the TMS release:
Roush has helped establish one of the most successful organizations in motorsports in Roush Fenway Racing. The organization stands as the winningest team in NASCAR history and boasts the most victories in both the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. With Roush at the helm, Roush Fenway Racing has captured seven championships across NASCAR's three major series, including two Sprint Cup Series championships in 2003 and '04.

Texas Motor Speedway has become the "House of Roush" with his nine Sprint Cup Series wins and 18 in Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series competition. His Sprint Cup Series victory total is more than double the next closest owner - which is Rick Hendrick with four - and his most recent win came in last April's Samsung Mobile (now NRA) 500.

Roush joins an accomplished list of individuals that have been inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame since it was established in 2003. He joins previous inductees A.J. Foyt (2003), Johnny Rutherford ('03), Terry Labonte ('04), Lee Shepherd ('04), Kenny Bernstein ('05), Jim Hall ('05), Eddie Hill ('06), Mark Martin ('07), Jim McElreath ('07), Bobby Labonte ('08), Bruton Smith ('08), Joe Gibbs ('09), John Force ('10) and Lanny Edwards ('11).

Johnson, who turned in his most dominating season at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012 with a victory in the AAA Texas 500 and runner-up finish in the Samsung Mobile 500, will receive the Texas Motor Speedway Racer of the Year award. In the AAA Texas 500, Johnson became just the second driver to win from the pole for his second career victory at Texas Motor Speedway. His win followed his previous performance during April's Samsung Mobile 500 where he led a race-high 156 laps en route to a runner-up finish behind Greg Biffle. In all, Johnson led a total of 324 of 669 laps in the two 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at "The Great American Speedway!"

Busch has been instrumental in helping Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter raise funds to benefit children in North Texas. He will be recognized as this year's recipient of the Maj. General Thomas Sadler Award. Busch has hosted some of Speedway Children's Charities biggest fundraising events that include the Kurt Busch Celebrity Bowling Tournament and Busch-Whacked Mud Run. In all, Busch has helped Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter raise more than $40,000.

Rahal will receive the Texas Motor Speedway Sportsmanship Award for displaying a demeanor both on and off the track that exemplifies the meaning of sportsmanship. In June, he appeared headed to his second career IZOD IndyCar Series victory before his car brushed the wall and the bobble handed the lead and eventual victory over to Justin Wilson. Following the race, Rahal handled defeat as a true professional. His sportsmanship has been demonstrated off the track through his work with the Graham Rahal Foundation and his efforts to help the family of the late Dan Wheldon in 2011 by generating an auction that raised more than $600,000.

Economaki, motorsport's most noted and accomplished journalist, will be honored posthumously with the Bruton Smith Legend Award. Economaki left a lasting impact on the motorsports community through his work as both an editor and publisher for National Speed Sport News and television commentator. His passion for racing helped him earn the title, "Dean of American Motorsports." His 74-year career as a journalist helped capture the early history of motorsports, covering premier events in NASCAR, INDYCAR and Formula One, among others.

Reaction: Justin Wilson wins in wild finish

June, 9, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Justin Wilson took the lead with two laps to go and held on for his first victory since 2009, winning Saturday's Firestone 550. Graham Rahal appeared in control, taking the lead with 29 laps left, but he grazed the wall with three laps remaining and Wilson was able to take the lead at that point.

It was a tough break for Rahal, who was close to getting his first win since 2008 as his father, Bobby Rahal, watched from Chip Ganassi Racing's pit box.

"I just messed up, honestly," Rahal said on the TV broadcast just after the race. "It just washed out a little bit and it's my fault. There's not much else I can say. I'm certainly disappointed because we had that one. This one will haunt me forever, that's for sure."

What it means: Wilson wins his seventh career race, his first since 2009. Before Saturday, his best finish was seventh in the Indy 500.

Notes on the leader: Wilson's previous best finish at TMS was 15th in 2009. ... It's the second IndyCar victory for Dale Coyne with Wilson's victory at Watkins Glen in 2009 as the only other one.

Late lead changes: The race, which for portions was a follow-the-leader event, got pretty exciting with 50 laps to go as several drivers couldn't hold the lead for too long. Scott Dixon was the first to go (hit the wall), followed by Will Power (penalty) and Ryan Briscoe (who gave up lead to hard-charging Graham Rahal) and finally Wilson.

Penalty for Power: With the lead in hand, Power was given a drive-through penalty for blocking Tony Kanaan with about 40 laps. Power gave up the lead because of the penalty, which ended up damaging the front wing of Kanaan's car. It was clear that Power was reacting to Kanaan trying to get around him, leaving IndyCar officials little choice but to penalize him.

Dixon loses lead, then car: Dixon, who led the most laps and for much of the race had the dominant car, started to fall off on lap times a bit with less than 60 to go and gave up the lead to Power. Shortly after dropping to second, Dixon wiggled into Turn 4, spun out and hit the wall. Dixon came into the race 26 points behind leader Power in the standings and leaves losing more ground. "We just got loose," Dixon said on the race broadcast after exiting the race. "I feel bad for the guys. We had a really good car and had a good chance to win tonight."

Delayed start because of injury: A worker at TMS, Richard Huggins, was taken out on a stretcher after part of the stage used for driver introductions fell on him. Huggins was treated and released from the Infield Care Cente, but it took extra time to get him there, making the race a few minutes late.

Not working: Rubens Barrichello's Chevrolet and Simona de Silvestro's Lotus engines didn't fire on pit road when the command was given and they did not start the race when the green flag dropped. Neither driver ended up starting the race.

Cautions: Charlie Kimball brought out the first caution flag on Lap 29 as he spun in Turn 4 and into the wall, ending up in the grass near the entrance of pit road. ... Takuma Sato spun on the backstretch and went into the wall on Lap 64. ... Ryan Hunter-Reay lost power, ending his race before 70 laps were complete. ... Josef Newgarden was given a drive-through penalty in the pits for entering the wrong pit box. Newgarden missed his box, causing issues for others, including Helio Castroneves, who was delayed because he couldn't get in his box.

Up and down day: Kanaan came into the pits and had trouble because a rear air jack failed during the first set of stops (Lap 36). The team tried to use a different jack and damaged the front wing and had to put a new one on. He came back to the pits to have additional work done, falling close to the rear of the field. ... Kanaan did manage to keep tracking toward the front and got himself back in the race and was running third with about 40 laps left until he touched the back of Power's car when Power moved down to block him. That damaged his front wing and forced him to the pits and back to the middle of the pack. ... Kanaan ended up 11th.

Franchitti handling issues: Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti wasn't happy with his handling and he spent extra time in the pits so the crew could make some substantial changes to the car. He went to the rear of the field during the first caution and tried to work his way back up. He finished 14th.

Tidbits: A.J. Foyt gave the command to start the engines before the race, saying: "Boys and girls, start your engines." ... This is third straight race at TMS that Alex Tagliani led. He led 33 laps in 2010, one lap in the first race in 2011 and the first 20 laps of Saturday's race. ... Dixon led on Saturday, meaning he's led in six of seven races this season. The only race he hasn't led was Long Beach. ... Dixon clinched the two bonus points for most laps led on Lap 130.

Up next: The IndyCar Series heads to Milwaukee next weekend for the Milwaukee IndyFest 225. Franchitti is the defending champion.

Firestone 550: Graham Rahal leads, Scott Dixon out

June, 9, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- After leading for 133 laps, Scott Dixon is out of the IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Despite dominating the race, Dixon was overtaken by Will Power in the 171st lap and two laps later Dixon lost control of his No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Honda and slammed into the wall. Dixon was not injured.

Power led until the 191st lap when he was charged with a blocking penalty on Tony Kanaan and had to give up his lead. The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Chevy is the points leader in the championship standings and is currently in eighth place.

With just 28 laps to go, No. 38 Graham Rahal leads the Firestone 550. The American driver of the Service Central Chip Ganassi Honda took the lead from No. 2 Ryan Briscoe with less than 30 laps to go. Rahal is ranked 15th in the standings and is trying for his first win of the year.

Power’s teammate Briscoe is currently in second place and seeking his first win of the year. Briscoe sits at eighth place in the standings.

No. 11 Kanaan had battled from far behind to take the third spot, but lost his lead when he had to make an untimely spot in Pit Road for a broken wing caused by Power’s block. Kanaan surrendered the third place spot to Helio Castroneves and is currently in 12th place.

Pole winner No. 98 Alex Tagliani, currently sits in ninth place. Second-place starter No. 10 Dario Franchitti has fought from last up to 14th.

The top five are currently Rahal, Briscoe, No. 18 Justin Wilson, Castroneves, and No. 27 James Hinchcliffe.

Firestone 550: Scott Dixon leads after 50 laps

June, 9, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, is leading after 50 laps in the IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Dixon, who has led in six of seven races this season, took over the lead from Alex Tagliani, who opened the race in the first position, in Lap 22.

The first caution of the night came in the 31st lap of the race, but Dixon held on to the lead coming out of pit road. Restart came in Lap 40.

No. 38 Graham Rahal, who started the night in third spot, is currently in second.

Rounding out the top five is No. 27 James Hinchcliffe, No. 26 Marco Andretti and No. 2 Ryan Briscoe.

Tagliani has fallen to eighth-place, while Dario Franchitti, winner of the Indy 500, sits in 22nd place.

IndyCar Series open testing at TMS on Monday

May, 2, 2012
Former Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello will be making his first IndyCar Series oval runs during open testing at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday.

Barrichello will be joined by IndyCar Series drivers Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimball, Mike Conway and Ed Carpenter for two sessions as the DW12 Dallara chassis makes its debut at TMS.

Barrichello, who won 11 races on the Formula One circuit, has finished in the top 10 of each of his last three IndyCar Series races. It will be the driver's first runs on an oval track.

The first session will be run from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and the second session will be from 1:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Both sessions are open to the public and are free. Fans should enter Gate 4. Coolers are not allowed, but concession stands will be open.

The Firestone 550 will be run at TMS on Sat., June 9.

Eddie Gossage, Graham Rahal: No TMS danger

March, 6, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Although any notion of a June boycott by IndyCar Series drivers had already been extinguished, it still was a hot topic during Texas Motor Speedway's media day Tuesday.

Track president Eddie Gossage said he hadn't heard from any drivers about safety concerns, specifically the fencing around the high-banked oval. And that's why he reacted angrily after reading about such concerns on a web site report last week.

Gossage remained defensive of the track's safety record Tuesday, adding that he's already talked to IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard.

"We're going to do what's right," Gossage said. "You never compromise safety. ... We're the only people that have had any engineers look at it. I think everybody has a better handle on it. They say they never talked about a boycott. ... I just know what I read."

Gossage also was quick to point out that last year's Firestone Twin 275 races only had one caution.

"I don't know why a speedway that had two races with one caution last year was suddenly the target," Gossage said.

Safety issues became paramount after driver Dan Wheldon died during a horrific crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October. Wheldon's car went airborne during the accident and the driver's head hit a pole on the fencing, which is similar to that used at TMS.

"Safety is not something to joke about. Safety is not something to take lightly. And we're not about to," Gossage said. "It's coming on the heels of a really catastrophic event ... and everybody is ultrasensitive to it.

"You can have emotional feelings about it, but the solution is a fact-based solution. I'm emotional about Dan because I cared a lot about Dan. He was a good guy, a good friend, everything about him ... and it was so tragic. But when you start talking about 'now what,' that has to be based solely on facts. Solely."

IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal, who was at the track Tuesday, said there are no safety concerns at TMS, which has hosted 23 IndyCar races since 1997 -- 16 of which have been decided by less than one second.

"It's never been something that crossed my mind," Rahal said. "Texas has always put on close races. Does that make a driver more nervous? Yeah, but it would make anybody more nervous. We realize that our sport is two things: Obviously to go fast in race cars, and it's also entertainment. The fans like to see close racing.

"The show we put on here is second to none," Rahal said. "We want to be here."

Tony Stewart, Ricky Stenhouse at TMS on Tuesday

March, 5, 2012
The Ben & Skin Show will be broadcasting live from Texas Motor Speedway from 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday as some of racing reigning champions visit for the track's annual media day.

Among the guests to join TMS president Eddie Gossage will be reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, who beat runner-up Carl Edwards to the checkered flag during the fall race at TMS.

Also visiting TMS will be Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse, Camping World Truck Series rookie and 2011 ARCA champion Ty Dillon, IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal and Foreigner lead singer Kelly Hansen.

While listening to Ben & Skin, fans can also watch the festivities at texasmotorspeedway.com.

Fan of IndyCar double-file restarts? Get in line

March, 30, 2011

Entering last weekend’s IndyCar season-opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., much of the discussion was about the series’ decision during the offseason to utilize double-file restarts in all races this year. IndyCar series officials wanted to tighten up the field on restarts, give drivers an opportunity to pass and, honestly, add another touch of excitement to the sport.

So on the start of Sunday’s race, the cars went dashing into the first turn on the first lap and -- Blam! -- a big pileup of stars and cars, most notably Marco Andretti sliding upside-down on the asphalt. Drivers like Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Mike Conway were involved in the incident. All were contenders to win the race.

Drivers, media and the internet forum “experts” quickly jumped and pointed a finger at the series’ double-file restart as the culprit.

Except it wasn’t a double-file restart. It was a double-file start. Like IndyCar and every other form of racing has been using for literally 100 years.

The real culprit, apparently, was Castroneves, the three-time Indy 500 champion. As the field barreled down the front straight toward Turn One, Castroneves ducked inside from his ninth starting position. When the cars -- four and five wide -- reached the hard right-hand turn at the end of the front straight, the cars inevitably funneled down. The next thing you knew, cars were sliding everywhere with Andretti on his lid.

“I guess I caused a mess,” Castroneves fessed up.

“As drivers, we take some of the blame,” race winner Dario Franchitti said. “We control the cars.”

Franchitti has accomplished so much in his career, including winning at Indy and winning the 2010 Indy Car championship. He is one of the smartest, most thoughtful drivers in the paddock. But I have to question his point: Some of the blame? Personally I think all of the blame is more accurate. Watching at home on television about 1,500 miles away, I could tell you what was about to happen as the cars took the green flag. And I can tell you similar things are going to happen at Long Beach and Toronto unless the drivers use their heads.

Even the drivers admit to the need to be smart. Dixon, Briscoe and Graham Rahal all used the word “idiots” to describe some of their competitors.

“They can see what’s going on, but they’re not paying attention,” Rahal said.

“There’s zero room for error and we can’t bump like NASCAR,” said Will Power, who finished second.

“I think we are maybe trying to copy something that the other guys do,” said Tony Kanaan, who finished an inspring third in St. Pete. “But we don’t have bumpers and can’t bump each other.”

But Simone de Silvestro may have the biggest set of coconuts: “I thought the double-file restarts were fun because it actually gave us a chance to make positions,” she said, confirming IndyCar’s premise. “Last year we would start single-file every time and it would be hard. You would just follow the leader. I think the restarts made it exciting.”

By the way, who got the biggest ovation from the St. Pete crowd after the race? It was de Silvestro for her stirring St. Pete performance with an under-funded team. Her brave moves reminded more of Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR than it did of a driver fearing the double-file restarts. Fans can see this. And they like it. The fan surveys here overwhelmingly demand double-file restarts. IndyCar racing is wise to listen to the fans after ignoring their wishes for the last two decades.

Use your head, guys. And watch de Silvestro. She can show you how to be brave and smart at the same time.