Rahal To Miss Opener
March 27, 2008 | 11:44 A.M. EST
Graham Rahal, driver for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, has withdrawn from Saturday's Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300. The team felt that damage sustained in a Tuesday evening testing crash at Homestead-Miami Speedway was too severe to be repaired in time for the race. Instead, they will debut the No. 06 car next weekend in Round 2 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
"We just don't have any parts," Rahal said. "Unfortunately, it's taken us out of it. We're just going to focus on next weekend, and that will be fine. That's what we should have done in a situation like this, and that's what we're going to do."
After seeing limited track time in the team's initial test with IndyCar Series equipment Monday, Rahal quickly was getting up to speed in the Tuesday evening session before the incident.
"The car bottomed and went around, and that was that," Rahal said. "That's how it goes. We were doing a good job. We were running quick and we had just passed Oriol (Servia) when it happened. Unfortunately, that's the way this kind of deal works."
Why wouldn't his father - veteran IndyCar Series team owner and former Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal - loan him a spare car for the race?
"We don't have one, unfortunately," said the elder Rahal, who fields the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Honda for Ryan Hunter-Reay. "We've got our spare, but it's set up for St. Pete, and we might need it. We won't know if we won't need it until Friday night, so for Graham to be waiting around until then would be ridiculous, and I don't think they'd allow him to race on Saturday without having run all weekend. Unfortunately, that's just the way it is.
"It's tough, especially on these ovals" Bobby Rahal said of the teams transitioning to the IndyCar Series. "They've shown they can drive around by themselves, but when they get into a race situation where you have people on top of one another, that's going to be a very strange and unusual experience for them. Tony Kanaan was telling me that even his first year here he wasn't sure he wanted to do this, because it's a very risky situation."
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing will field the No. 02 McDonald's Honda Dallara for Justin Wilson, among eight cars fielded by former Champ Car teams for the event.
Rahal's withdrawal drops the entry list to 25 for the 8 p.m. Saturday race. Practice and qualifying is set for Friday.