JWR ALUM: Rahal wins Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the IndyCar Series debut
At 19 years, 3 months and 2 days, Rahal becomes the youngest winner in IndyCar history at the time, breaking a record previously established by Marco Andretti at Sonoma in 2006.
After overcoming a spin early in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Rahal passed Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was driving for Rahal’s father, Bobby, to take the lead after a Lap 64 restart and led the final 19 laps through the checkered flag for his first IndyCar victory.
Rahal’s victory is also notable as it is the first victory for Newman/Haas Racing post-reunification and comes in his first start in the reunified IndyCar Series.
After competing as a rookie in Champ Car’s final season in 2007, Rahal missed the 2008 IndyCar opener March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway after crashing his car in a test, the team lacked parts to fix it.
“It can’t get any sweeter than this,” Rahal told ESPN after the win. “Especially after last week, not racing. Certainly, this makes it a whole lot sweeter.”
Graham is one of our alum! Graham won the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in the Formula Atlantic category in 2005 racing for Anderson Walko Racing.
AWR Drivers move up the ladder
Andersen Walko Racing's four full-time drivers from the 2005 season have some exciting plans for 2006.
The team’s two drivers with the best results in the Star Mazda Championship, presented
by Goodyear, last year will both advance to the Champ Car Atlantic Championship presented by Yokohama in 2006.
Yesterday Robbie Pecorari of Aston, Pa., who finished second in the Star Mazda championship last year and earned its Rookie of the Year award while driving for Anderwn Walko Racing(AWR), said “As of now we have made the decision to run the Champ Car Atlantic series for 2006. We have not signed anything yet, but hope fully in the next few weeks we should be able to announce which team we’ll be running with and all of the details.”
Pccorari broke the track record at Arizona’s Firebird Int’l Raceway in November while testing an Atlantic car with Brooks Associates Racing.
Graham Rahal, who finished fourth in the Star Mazda Championship last year driving for AWR, has already announced his plans to compete in the Atlantic series.
The New Albany, Ohio driver will run with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing, and yesterday he announced the car would be sponsored by Gehl, the Wisconsin-based light construction and agricultural equipment manufacturer. Last year, Rahal became the youngest driver ever to win a pro StarMazda race when he was victorious at Portland lnternational Raceway at the age of 16. He’ll revisit that track this year in the Atlantic series.
The Atlantic SeaSon opener is April 9 on tbe streets of Long Beach, CA.
Rahal will start his first Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on Jan. 28 too. The 17-year-old is one of four drivers of the Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup No. 74 that set the fastest time for the GT class in testing at Daytona earlier this month.
Another ex-AWR driver, Adam Pecorari, Robbie's brother, who ran with the team in the Formula Ford Zetec series in 2004, is also expected to compete at Daytona. He drives a Rehagen Racing Mustang Cobra SVT in the Grand-Am Cup Series.
Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile has moved on to the new-generation USAC Silver Crown division. He is the driver of a Cristal Beer-sponsored Riley for Racing Teams Inc.,which is owned by Eliseo Salazar and Johnny Vance. His 2006 season opener is this weekend at Phoenix InternationalRaceway. He finished ninth in Star Mazda points last year with AWR.
AWR's Jonathan Klein of Long Grove, Il. will drive in the lndy Racing League's Indy Pro series (formerly the Menards IInfniti Pro series) in 2006 as a member of the team that won the lndy Racing League lndy Car championship for the last two years, Andretti Green Racing.
Klein drove for AWR in both 2004 and 2005. He was the Star Mazda series' most improved driver of 2004, and he finished 13th in that series last year. His best finish was second in the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California in October. His 2006 Indy Pro season opner will be March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida.
"We're proud of all of our drivers, and we hope that the lessons they learned while running with us have been instrumental in their success" said AWR's Dan Andersen, "Our drivers for 2006 - Brad Jaeger, Gerardo Bonilla and Ramiro Scuncio - have some pretty big shoes to fill, but we'll help them as much as we can.''
The 2006 Star Mazda seasont opener is March 17 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida.
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