With the Verizon IndyCar Series facing its second consecutive weekend in which inclement weather has played havoc with the scheduling of on-track sessions, after persistent rain delayed opening practice at Gateway Motorsports Park, Graham Rahal has cautioned that the series needs to find ways of addressing limits on track time at certain events.
“I’m fine at certain places with not having warm-ups, but I thought Pocono was a big mistake to not have a practice, and there was really no excuse for not having a practice, so that was disappointing,” Rahal said at Gateway. “Places like Road America, when you have the crowd you have at Road America, you need to have a warm-up. It’s that simple. Trust me, I love sleeping in, but when there’s 80,000 people there — I mean, when I left the bus at Road America at 8:00 a.m., it was packed. People come to see us, so you need to be on track. Mid-Ohio, everybody was like, ‘Where were you guys? We came here to see you guys, there was nothing going on.’ So that needs to probably change. It’s just too important to have these cars on track for fans to enjoy.”
Rahal conceded his concerns over over track time might be increased by the struggles he and Rahal Letterman Lanigan teammate Takuma Sato have had in finding workable setups in time for qualifying and the races this year.
“Has [lack of track time] hurt us this year? Maybe a little bit. But I would say in a lot of places, we haven’t started really on target, and so when you don’t start on target, you’re just chasing,” he admitted. “You really need to show up and just be in a good spot, and then it’s just fine tuning from there on out. And we haven’t been in that spot yet this season.
“Let’s hope it will turn around. Portland, we’ve got a test there. As we go on from there, Sonoma, we have a test there. So hopefully we’ll be a little better off. But there’s a lot of elements that go into this. We’ve had opportunities this year, and it just hasn’t worked out, and then we’ve had races where it should have worked out and we shot ourselves in the foot. So it’s been a little bit all over the board.
“I think everybody is probably just a touch frustrated with the way it’s gone, and that kind of leads to more mistakes and things like that. Just going to hunker down and finish this thing off as strong as we can.