Rahal Letterman Lanigan team manager Ricardo Nault believes that the team has to move quickly if it is to add a second car to run alongside Graham Rahal in IndyCar next year.
The team is coming off a stellar season in which it overcame the perceived disadvantages of its single-car status to emerge as the strongest Honda team, with Graham Rahal ending a win drought that extended back to 2008, and finishing a career-high fourth in the championship.
Rahal acknowledged after the season-finale at Sonoma that the addition of a strong teammate could help to continue the RLL’s charge up the grid next year, although he acknowledged that expansion is only beneficial if it does not disrupt the existing harmony within the team. Nault, LEFT, told RACER that the pros and cons are still being weighed up, but insists that if RLL does opt for a second car, it needs to commit sooner rather than later.
“There’s always concern about disrupting what you have, especially when it’s working,” he said. “And it definitely worked well this year.
“If you’re going to take on another car, in my opinion, you have to do it sooner rather than later. There are people out there of value that you want to hire, and you need to get them straight away and start integrating them into your program.
“If we’re going to run a second car, we can’t wait until February to [decide to] do it because it’s too late. There isn’t anybody left available that you want to hire, and you have got to find guys that will work and do things the same way as the rest of your organization.”
Nault said that the team has already identified a short-list of potential additions on the crew side that it believes would integrate well with RLL’s existing culture.
“We’ve already identified a number of people that, if we grew to add a second car, we would try to get,” he said. “And there’s a bit of cherry-picking among the other teams, but that’s pretty much what we all do to each other. If you can’t get those people, it may not be the best idea to go racing without them.
“If you go to a two-car team and you get a bunch of guys that, a) you started too late and aren’t who you want, or b) the guys you wanted weren’t available and you had to settle – I don’t really want to say ‘settle’ but it’s as good a word as any – for people that you’re unsure of or who think differently to you, it can very quickly turn into an ‘us versus them’ kind of thing, where you’re fighting internally and trying to prove that your theory and your car is the best.
“No matter what anybody says, we’re all racers and when you get into a team like this, there’s direct competition regardless. But what you don’t want to do is have that turn into, ‘I want to beat my teammate above all else.’ What you need to do is make sure everybody is working together to make sure that you beat everybody else first, and then we’ll see how the teammates play out. “
RLL last ran two full-time entries in 2013, when it fielded James Jakes alongside Rahal, but it has routinely added additional cars for the Indianapolis 500.