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Rahals take advantage of opportunity
Several weeks ago, Rahal Letterman Racing's cars were sitting in the shop, still blue from last year's color scheme for the Indianapolis 500. Graham Rahal was hoping for a ride and looking for a sponsor, his anxiousness even coming across on his Twitter account.Kills me to know Indy cars are on track and I'm not in one," he wrote on April 30. Earlier this month, Rahal Letterman Racing announced Graham would drive for the team in the Indy 500, and on May 15 a one-race sponsor, Quick Trim, was found. Last Saturday, Rahal qualified seventh for Sunday's race, the best starting position for an American driver.

"We didn't work on qualifying stuff too much," Rahal said. "I think that makes us even more proud because for us, really, the first time we tried anything in qualifying was (Friday) afternoon. We did one run."

Rahal made the first pole shootout under the new format. He was seventh at 225.519. He's behind only three Team Penske drivers -- pole winner Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Ryan Briscoe -- two Ganassi Racing drivers in Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, and Alex Tagliani of Fazzt Race Team.

"As (Tagliani) said, to run with Ganassi, Penske, Newman/Haas, who have done a lot of development in the offseason, I think it's impressive," Rahal said. This is the first time Rahal will drive in an Izod IndyCar Series race for his famous father, 1986 Indy winner Bobby Rahal.

"When I said we need to get the car ready and we're going to put Graham in the car, I think the reaction by the team was everybody was really excited," Bobby said. "And then a split-second later everybody is saying, 'Oh, we better make sure this is a good program. We've got the boss's kid in the car.' "

Graham is working with RLR general manager Scott Roembke, who called Buddy Rice's winning run six years ago.

"Scott Roembke's line when we first showed up here was, 'If you want to be a fast guy, run with the fast guys,' " said Graham, the youngest winner of an IndyCar race at 19 years and 93 days when he won in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 2008. "For us to start up there, it's extremely important. To be able to run with the guys that you know are going to be in contention at the end of this, it's a good starting spot for us." The Indianapolis Star
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