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Rahal readies for long classic

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
Published January 26, 2008


Champ Car driver Graham Rahal, 19, already has run three Rolex 24 sportscar races, and starts with a team on the pole (with Oswaldo Negri, Mark Patterson and Justin Wilson) for the second time today at Daytona International Speedway. Times staff writer Brant James caught up with the son of former CART champion Bobby Rahal (who won the 1981 Rolex 24), co-driver of the No.60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley, for a chat about the lure of Daytona, the future of Champ Car and racing for a whole day.

 

What's the mind-set for an endurance race?

The big thing is you have to be patient and certainly you can't rush anything, whereas in Champ Car, being that it's a shorter period of time, you push much harder.

 

Why is this race drawing drivers from so many different regimens?

I think every driver wants to be part of history in some way ... I would say this, Sebring, Le Mans, Indy and nowadays, increasingly, the Daytona 500, those are the races people really want to win.

 

Are you worried about Champ Car's future, given the Speed.com report that the Indy Racing League is trying to buy out its rival series' owners?

I am very confident there will be (a 2008 season), and we'll soldier on, but we need to get things sorted out. No matter what anybody says, there needs to be one series. It's just a shame because we're in a position here where I'm just not convinced the owners of the (Champ Car) series see (things) that way.

FAST FACTS

Rolex 24

What: Grand Am Series 24-hour race for GT and Prototype sportscars

Where: Daytona International Speedway, 3.56-mile, 14-turn road course.

When: Green flag at1:30 p.m.

Who: Notable non-Grand Am drivers include NASCAR Sprint Cup champs Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch and IRL star Helio Castroneves.

TV: Speed, 2:30-10 p.m.; 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday