Written by Archie O’Reilly
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) have confirmed that Graham Rahal will continue with the team after signing a new multi-year deal for 2024 and beyond. That marks the completion of the team’s three-car lineup, with Rahal joining Christian Lundgaard and Pietro Fittipaldi.
“I’m extremely excited to get a new multi-year agreement in place and hopefully continue to build and improve the team,” Rahal said. “At the end of the season, we saw some glimpses of what we can and should be. Obviously, there is a lot of work still to be done to ensure that we continue to grow and get ourselves in a place for continuous success.”
Off the back of his new deal, the he 34-year-old American is gearing up for his 18th season in IndyCar competition. He has thus far achieved six wins and a total of 29 podiums across over 250 races, driving for his family's team for the past 11 seasons.
“I’m excited about the signs that I saw,” Rahal added in the team’s release when reflecting on the manner in which his 2023 season ended. “I’m also excited to continue working with the tremendous partners that we have. It was important to me to continue to represent them and hopefully do a great job for them as we go forward.”
Rahal’s 2023 was marred by claims that his time in IndyCar may have been run after failing to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, bumped out of the field by teammate Jack Harvey. He still went on to race after replacing the injured Stefan Wilson for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, but a mechanical issue before the start sent him off the lead lap.
RLL collectively struggled on ovals across 2023, but they did become one of the series’ best teams on road courses, with Lundgaard also taking a win on the streets of Toronto. Rahal’s road course form showed he is absolutely still able to compete with his young teammate, taking poles on both the Indianapolis Road Course and in Portland.
Rahal was unfortunate not to win the former of the races he took pole for as he was trumped by an extraordinary fuel save from Scott Dixon. But returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time since his Month of May woes and taking a second-place, as well as his first pole in six years, marked one of the year’s best stories.
A 15th-place championship finish, marking a regression of four places from 2022, was no doubt disappointing for Rahal. But there is hope that an upturn in oval form could see the team firing on all cylinders once again, giving Rahal another shot at his first race victory since the 2017 season.
“We are pleased to have been able to come to an agreement with Graham to drive for the team for the coming years,” Bobby Rahal, RLL co-owner and Graham’s father, said. “Clearly, when we’ve given him a car that he likes he shows what he can do by running up front. Two pole positions, really within a fraction of a second for a third this year and led many laps.
“All of that should reaffirm to everyone what he is capable of. He’s as driven as ever to win races and it’s exciting to watch. Clearly the efforts of the team over the off season are to ensure we have competitive cars at every race next year, including the Indy 500.”
Fellow co-owner, Mike Lanigan, added: “I have worked with Graham for the last 18 years, first as a 17-year-old in the Atlantic Series and many years as an IndyCar driver. Watching him grow and excel not only in racing, but also off the track, has been very impressive.
“Signing him with RLL will certainly continue to enhance the team’s ability to succeed in the competitive world we race in. His experience and knowledge in all aspects of racing is one the team will take full advantage of.”
The team holds hope that, if all goes well, they could expand to a four-car operation in years to come, with Juri Vips still on the team’s books as a ‘fourth charger’. It is now clear, given the multi-year agreement, that Rahal is very much be part of that future and is not ready to end his full-time IndyCar involvement just yet.