The 2024 season will be Graham Rahal’s 17th season in IndyCar, and the 12th season of racing for his father’s team.
There had been considerable rumors that Rahal would leave his father’s team and potentially retire or move to another team.
Rahal finished 15th in the championship this past season, his worst showing in the series since ending up 19th in 2014.
In one of the most anticipated off-season moves in IndyCar, Graham Rahal made it official Monday that he isn’t retiring or will drive for another team in 2024.
Rather, the son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion and team co-owner Bobby Rahal will stay right at home at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, agreeing to a new multi-year contract extension.
“I’m extremely excited to get a new multi-year agreement in place and hopefully continue to build and improve the team,” Graham Rahal said. “At the end of the season, we saw some glimpses of what we can and should be.
“Obviously, there is a lot of work still to be done to ensure that we continue to grow and get ourselves in a place for continuous success but I’m excited about the signs that I saw. I’m glad that we were able to come together with Mike (co-owner Mike Lanigan), my dad, David (co-owner David Letterman) and everyone at the organization to continue together.”
While Rahal, who turns 37 on January 4, finished 15th in the championship this past season, his worst showing in the series since ending up 19th in 2014, there were signs of promise in the latter stages of the 2023 campaign.
He earned two poles in the last four races—his first poles since 2017—and he finished second in the late summer edition of the Indianapolis Grand Prix (part of the Brickyard 400 weekend with NASCAR), his first podium finish since 2021.
He also started the season with a sixth-place finish at St. Petersburg and had back-to-back top-10 finishes at Mid-Ohio (7th) and Toronto (9th).
But 2023 was also an arduous season at times for the younger Rahal. He finished 20th or worse in five of the first 12 races, made four early exits due to contact, and also embarrassingly failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
But when Stefan Wilson was injured in a practice crash for the 500, Rahal was tabbed to replace him and drive in the Greatest Spectacle In Racing by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, starting 33rd and finishing 22nd, five laps off the lead lap.
The 2024 season will be Rahal’s 17th season in IndyCar, and the 12th season of racing for his father’s team. Although he has six career wins, he has struggled to reach victory lane in recent seasons, his last triumph being in 2017. And he’s finished 20th or worse in seven of 16 appearances in the Indianapolis 500.
There had been considerable discussion and rumors that Rahal would leave his father’s team and potentially retire or move to either Andretti Autosport or Dale Coyne Racing for 2024. But instead, he’ll remain at home with his father’s team. And with Monday’s signing, it’s likely the younger Rahal will ultimately finish his IndyCar racing career with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
“We are pleased to have been able to come to an agreement with Graham to drive for the team for the coming years,” Bobby Rahal said. “Clearly, when we’ve given him a car that he likes he shows what he can do by running up front.
“Two pole positions, really within a fraction of a second for a third this year and led many laps. All of that should reaffirm to everyone what he is capable of. He’s as driven as ever to win races and it’s exciting to watch. Clearly the efforts of the team over the off season are to ensure we have competitive cars at every race next year, including the Indy 500.”
Rahal will be teamed with Christian Lundgaard and newcomer Pietro Fittipaldi in the coming season, which begins March 10 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter/X at @JerryBonkowski.