One of the most refreshing sights of the 2020 IndyCar Series season – barring the star performances of this year’s impressive rookie crop – has been that of Rahal Letterman Lanigan fulfilling its inherent promise. The team co-owned by three-time IndyCar champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan has been a puzzling entity in recent years, generating more questions than answers.
For example, how come a squad that’s been full of talented engineers for several seasons and runs two fast and proven race winners isn’t a more consistent threat to IndyCar’s so-called Big Three? Why was the team a bigger championship threat when it ran just one car for Graham Rahal in 2015 than when it expanded to two entries? And how come Rahal Jr has been a more dependable performer over the last two seasons than his team-mate Takuma Sato, yet the latter has scored the team’s three most recent victories?
Well, that last point is largely down to luck, or rather Rahal’s lack of it. In fact, misfortune still lingers around the #15 entry in 2020: there was the pre-race ECU problem at Texas that consigned him to the back of the field, the fouled pitstop in Road America race one that cost him a genuine shot at victory, and a crash at the same venue the next day following a collision with Will Power. Yet despite these incidents, Rahal still lies sixth in the championship. Without them he’d be second and probably not too far from points leader Scott Dixon.