Thursday, March 11, 2010

Graham Rahal Driving Limited Schedule for Sarah Fisher Racing: Will miss Sao Paulo Opener

Photo Credit: IndyCar Media

As many participants of the IRL IZOD IndyCar Series were heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the 2010 season opening race, one team sitting out the inaugural IRL trip to the South American country is Sarah Fisher Racing. Nonetheless, the part-time race team attracted some considerable attention on Thursday presenting Graham Rahal as a driver of the Sarah Fisher Racing #67 Dallara/Honda for upcoming St Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park rounds of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar schedule. The official statement arrived today but media reports leaked shortly after Graham Rahal indicated on his Twitter account that a big announcement was planned.

Driver/owner Sarah Fisher indicated through the official team release that she contacted team sponsor Dollar General after realizing Rahal was unsigned and arranged this deal for the 21 year old American driver. "We are all very enthusiastic about having Graham in the seat for the two road course races that start off our season". With Sarah Fisher herself dedicated to only a part-time schedule in 2010 for US oval races in the #66 Indy car, her team also added a #67 car which will be driven by Jay Howard for 4 IndyCar events and now Rahal for 2 races. As Rahal was named to Sarah Fisher Racing, Rahal stated "I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the Dollar General No.67 car and hopefully contribute to the success of SFR."

A talented second-generation driver, Graham Rahal has come into he own through a short career which includes 5 Atlantic Championship wins and a victory on the IndyCar tour in 2008's running the road course of St Petersburg. Moving with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing from the defunct Champ Car series into IndyCar, the 2009 season ended with less than spectacular on-track results and the departure of McDonalds as a team sponsor. Rahal spent the entire IndyCar series pre-season in the rumour mill as a return to Newman/Haas/Lanigan in 2010 was judge highly unlikely. Rahal's name has been pegged to both Gil de Ferran's attempt to build an IndyCar team and Dale Coyne Racing's second car. However, rides in the series soon filled up and Graham Rahal remained a free agent. Some sources alleged that Rahal was casting feelers to NASCAR but there were no major teams expressing interest.

While economics in auto racing have stuttered a multitude of racing efforts, the effect on young American open wheel talent is risking to erode future interest in homegrown IndyCar drivers. Tony Stewart, AJ Allendinger, Scott Speed and Sam Hornish Jr are a few American racers lured by the more abundant corporate funding in stock car racing. However, even this pathway for rideless open wheel drivers has dried up (well, with the exception of Danica Patrick).

As only two races are currently planned between Rahal and Sarah Fisher Racing for 2010, Graham Rahal's plans for the rest of the year will likely depend on the outcome in the St Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park road races for whether he'll have backing for more races in the IZOD IndyCar Series in the future.

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