And why wouldn't he feel good? National Guard and their very lucrative sponsorship money has jumped aboard the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing car, bringing just over $12 million to the table (via RACER.com). This money can go a long way to testing out new parts and trying a new array of equipment, increasing the chance of finding speed on the track. Then there's the added incentive of not only representing your country and the men and women who serve in the National Guard and the American Armed Forces, but also the chance to pick National Guard's first win in Indycar. You know both of those factors is more than enough to motivate Graham to go win some races.
|Graham practicing at Milwaukee in 2013 (Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images)|
Another great addition in the offseason was the hiring of veteran engineer Bill Pappas. Pappas engineered Justin Wilson's Dale Coyne Racing car for the last two seasons, including Justin's win at Texas in 2012 and his P6 championship effort last season. With over 25 years of experience, there's no denying that Pappas is a vital asset to any team and driver. Graham already talked about what Bill has brought to the team in an interview with Indycar Media, which can be viewed here on Youtube.
But all of that is pointless if the driver behind the wheel can't get the job done. I know I have often been very critical of Graham, especially during his dismal 2013 performance. I am quick to jump on his wrongdoings and mistakes, without giving him proper credit to his successes. There are often times where I feel like his driving style is a bit aggressive and criticize it often, but deep down, I love the aggressive drivers! I'd rather see someone be aggressive than conservative. There is no denying that Graham not only wants to be an elite driver, but he also has the capabilities to be a champion
I mean sure his only Indycar win did come in his first Indycar race back in 2008, meaning his racing drought is now 95 races long. And yes he never won in his two year stint at Chip Ganassi Racing in 2011-2012. But he was consistently fighting up front in a lot of races in those two seasons with the top drivers. Last year, you can tell when the car and driver were on the same page, which wasn't often. Bur it was obvious that Graham's car was not up to par.
|Graham on his way to his only career win in 2008 (Photo: Marc Serota / Getty Images North America)|
What does this all mean for 2014? I think Graham is ready to breakout and show that he is in fact related to the legend Bobby Rahal. I see at least one win coming his way in 2014, and a top-seven championship performance from him. For reference, Graham's best championship finishing position was 7th in 2009 with Newman-Haas Racing.
Do you think Graham will have a successful year in 2014? Let me know what you think!