Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing's Graham Rahal joined RACER editor David Malsher for a Twitter interview on Tuesday. Rahal's thoughts on the season so far in 140-character bites or more are below.
RACER: Why has it been so hard to reproduce your end-of-2011 form this season? Is it still a bad luck thing, or struggles with DW12?
GRAHAM RAHAL: I think it simply has been bad luck. If you really look at it, we've been even better this year. We have been in the top 5 almost every race, but almost always something takes us out of it. Luck is a big part of this sport
R: Ganassi team manager Mike Hull says the bond between the Target Ganassi team and the Service Central and Novo Nordisk Ganassi team is tighter this year. Would you agree and does having four cars truly speed up the learning of the DW12
GR: I totally agree, we have been working a lot better together, and I think it's helping both parties a lot. It's been a nice partnership for all of us.
R: Pre-season, you thought Chevrolet would have more torque and Honda would be best at the top of the rev range. Still true?
GR: Yes I think Chevy may have a little more torque, but Honda has done a heck of a job, and I think they deserve more credit for everything they have done to close the gap.
R: How much difference did the post-Long Beach turbo alterations make? Power? Fuel mileage? Both?
GR: I don't think the turbo made the difference, I think it's the tuning of the engines. We have made huge strides with power and miles per gallon, and it's been huge for us with Hondas.
R: Now oval racing's more in the drivers' hands, has that negated the advantage one engine has over another?
GR: No I think the engines have advantages at different places. I always felt at 140kpa boost pressure the Chevy was better, like at Milwaukee, but overall we feel good about where we are headed. The ovals have been phenomenal this year!
[Note: the BorgWarner turbos are set at 130kpa for speedways, 140kpa for short ovals and 155kpa for road and street courses]
R: In the closing stages of the Texas Motor Speedway race, were you speeding up to keep Justin Wilson behind when you hit the wall or did you feel safe distance ahead?
GR: I was trying to push hard like I do every lap I drive. The team told me he was coming, and I wanted to make sure he didn't. I honestly didn't think I was going to touch the wall – but obviously I was wrong!
R: After that race were you more bummed over losing a win or happy that you now know that you and Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing are fast under new oval aero/downforce rules?
GR: I feel extremely happy that we are running up front, and yes I'm bummed about not winning, but we will win soon. I know it and feel it coming.
R: General questions now. Out of the possible venues to replace China – and there are a lot – what's your choice, why, and is it based on where you think you'd be strong?
GR: Road America, simply put. It's the greatest track maybe in the world, minus Indianapolis, Nurburgring and Spa.
R: Great answer. How about Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca?
GR: That place treated my dad well!
[Sure did – Bobby Rahal won four straight CART Indy car races at Laguna from 1984 through '87]
R: You have been teammates with some great IndyCar champions – Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais. Sum up their strengths and weaknesses!
GR: They are all legends in their own right. I have been fortunate to learn from so many different guys, different styles, strengths/weaknesses, and I try to put that into everything I do. Of course they are all different, but all fantastic guys to have worked with.
R: If that had been you, not Dario, at Turn 1 fighting Takuma Sato on the last lap of the Indy 500, who'd your dad have wanted to win: his son or his car?
GR: I would always say his son and he would say the same, but in that position it would be tough. I think, as he says, blood is always thicker than water, so I would say “me”!
R: Are the current breed of U.S. IndyCar drivers as talented as multiple race winners/champs like Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr. and your dad?
GR: Absolutely. IndyCar racing now is more competitive than ever. I always pick on dad a bit about how in his days cars broke down, the spread in speeds was way bigger, etc. It's all for fun, but yes the drivers now are easily as competitive as before.
From @AshleyS67817083: How/why did you choose the organizations that the @GR_Foundation is partnered with?
GR: I chose them simply as I felt I wanted to help kids and with Paul Newman as my previous boss, I felt I wanted to give back to him as well. Alex's Lemonade was originally a connection through Service Central, but now they are a great partner of ours.
From @theACarlson: How much pressure do you feel to win?
GR: There is always pressure, I put tons on myself to win, and right now I want to win more than ever before
From @AndersonMagoo: If you were not in IndyCar, what would you be doing?
GR: Playing golf! I love golf nearly as much as I do racing. It's a great sport, and to be honest, I'm going to play right now!
From @VickiAllen51 What does an ideal off weekend from racing look like for you?
GR: I would go on a vacation with my family or just stay home, go golfing, spend time with my girlfriend @lakenkurtz and hang out with my dogs.
From @Pimp_Guido What crazy fun cars do you have in your garage at home?
GR: I have a couple cool things, like a McLaren MP4-12C, but really I don't own anything unless I use it a lot. Being gone doesn't help the using it a lot part!
R: You have a McLaren? Excellent. You can give Oriol Servia some advice – he's testing one for us next week. Thanks for your time and good luck to you and Chip Ganassi Racing at Iowa.
Graham can be followed on Twitter at @GrahamRahal, the Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing team at @CGRTeams, and RACER at @RACERmag.