(This story originally appeared as exclusive content on the Verizon INDYCAR Mobile app. To download the app on smartphones, click here.)
LONG BEACH, California – Fifteen times, Bobby Rahal competed in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and none resulted in a victory. Rahal finished second on the streets of Long Beach four times.
Ten times, his son Graham has competed in North America's greatest street race and he hasn't won yet, either. His best finish was second to Takuma Sato in 2013. Together, the Rahals hope to end that 25-race Long Beach winless streak in Sunday's Toyota Grand Pix of Long Beach – the second race of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).
“To win that one will be special,” Graham Rahal told the INDYCAR Mobile App. “Obviously, a Rahal has never won at Long Beach and has finished second five times combined. That's not a whole of lot of fun.
“Hopefully, we can get a win.”
Long Beach has become Graham Rahal's second “hometown race.” He lives in Southern California with his wife, NHRA drag racing star Courtney Force. He will have more than 40 family members and friends attending this weekend's events.
“It's a big event for me, personally,” Graham said. “Last year, we were fast. I screwed up and crashed in practice and put ourselves behind the 8-ball for qualifying. We started in the back, panicked in the race and had to do a crazy strategy. We were fast in the race but had to get down to making a fuel number that was impossible. That was no fun.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing needs to rebound after the disappointment that came at the start of the March 12 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg when Rahal was involved in contact with Charlie Kimball before the field completed the first lap. RLL had to replace the rear wing assembly on the No. 15 Honda and Graham finished 17th, two laps down.
“It's disappointing when you are around people that don't quite get the fact it's the first lap of the first race of the season,” said Bobby Rahal, the team co-owner. “You aren't going to pass anybody there so why try is beyond me. It ruins your race and everybody else's race as well. The same thing happened to us last year when Carlos Munoz took us out and we ended up finishing strongly.
“We'll just put this one behind us. It's in the rear-view mirror now. We need to stay focused on what we are doing and have a very good year.”
Driving with primary sponsorship from PennGrade Motor Oil this weekend, Graham was 12th on the combined speed chart from Friday’s practices at Long Beach. The event is one of the gems on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.
“It's huge,” Graham Rahal said. “Any place you get a couple hundred thousand (fans) for the weekend, that's a big event. I don't care what sport you are talking about, it's a big one. It has a lot of history and it's a cool event. Living in Southern California, there are a lot of things you contend with as far as an event.
“There are a lot of sports to be had and beaches, but people know what the Long Beach Grand Prix is. That is a common thing I've seen. Whether they are racing fans or not, they have heard of it, they know of it and that comes from time. It's special.”
Practice resumes today on the 1.968-mile temporary street course at 1:45 p.m. ET today, with knockout qualifying starting at 6:30 p.m. Both sessions stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com. A qualifying telecast also airs at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN.