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Graham Rahal looks ahead to Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Graham Rahal kicks up some dirt at Barber this past April while driving for Chip Ganassi's 'B' team.
Although the excitement of the Indy racing season is still a few months away, driver Graham Rahal said that he is already preparing for and looking forward to the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

"We are doing some testing, but it's sorta quiet right now," Rahal, who was in town this week for a visit to Barber, said. "It's nice to take a step back and relax a bit, because it will get busy soon enough. It will be insane in just a short time."

Rahal will be racing in the Honda Grand Prix on April 5-7 as the newly signed member of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL)--a team his father, 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time Indy car champion Bobby Rahal, co-owns with "CBS Late Show" host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Michael Lanigan. TBC Retail Group will be Rahal's primary sponsor while Valvoline will be a major associate sponsor.

His signing to the team in November was a much-anticipated move and one that Rahal said will add intensity and excitement to the season.

"My Dad is thrilled right now, and it's something that many people said was a long time coming," Rahal said. "It adds a little bit of pressure and it adds intensity, but that's how it is all the time. And that's how we like it."

"Each and every one of us, no matter what team you're part of, is intense. It's always our goal to win races," he said. "This just adds something more to it."

Rahal, who quite obviously grew up surrounded by racing, said that his love for the automobile started at a very young age.

"I've always loved racing, but it's even more than racing," he said. "I have a passion for the automobile and I always have. I just love cars."

That passion for cars and his new team will get tested early in the season at Barber Motorsports Park, where he and other Indy racers will compete in just the second race of 2013.

According to Rahal, the race at Barber is one looked forward to by Indy racers. "We like to call It the Augusta of motorsports, because it is such a beautiful venue," he said. "The race last year was phenomenal and it's a great venue. There really Is no better environment for racing."

Rahal said that there are high hopes for the upcoming season, even with the new team change and some needed sponsorships still on the horizon.

"I think it's going to be a really successful year for us," he said. "I think we're going to be lean and mean and ready to go."

Success in the past has primed Rahal for this season. He spent the past two seasons with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, where he posted seven top five finishes in 32 races. He placed ninth and 10th in the championship standings, and totaled 76 starts in five seasons of racing.

RLL has also posted much success over the years, winning the 2004 Indianapolis 500 with Buddy Rice and almost winning last year's race when Takuma Sato challenged Dario Franchitti for the lead in the first turn of the final lap before crashing. RLL has made 602 total Indy car starts.

"We've won gold before. Everyone knows that and is focused on winning more," Rahal said. "That's my hope and I'm anticipating it."

For now, Rahal and his new team are focused on getting ready for Barber and the other 2013 races. "Our focus now is already on next year," he said. "We're already pushing really hard to get ready for the season." AL.com

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