- Associated Press - Friday, June 14, 2013

WEST ALLIS, WIS. (AP) - Graham Rahal thought teaming up with his father would lead to a breakthrough IndyCar season.

Instead, he’s been stymied by his inability to adapt to the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing setups and put together performances he characterized Friday as “incredibly average.”

The worst was last Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, where Rahal nearly won a year ago but was a dismal 21st in his return.

“We were terrible from the get-go, from the absolute start I was very unhappy,” Rahal said Friday. “As a driver, all year I’ve struggled in this car compared to what we all thought the pace would be. My driving style is one that I’m very sensitive to the rear of the car.”

His struggles are to the point where the setups used last year by Takuma Sato have become worthless.

“Takuma, who was here before, isn’t sensitive to the rear. And so I’ve had to throw away all the setup sheets and start fresh,” Rahal said. “We’ve struggled. I’m not going to lie, Texas was the longest night of my entire career.”

Rahal goes into Saturday’s race at the Milwaukee Mile ranked 18th in the IndyCar standings with one podium finish and only three top-10s.

While he admits his confidence has been rattled, he’s not frustrated with his RLL team.

“I’m not frustrated at all. We’re going to be together as a team for many years to come,” he said. “I’m not looking to go anywhere else or do anything else. I love being here and really enjoy myself. It’s just difficult from a drivers’ perspective confidence-wise. Everybody has tough years. But when you are a driver, to go each and every weekend to keep your head up is a challenge.”

Rahal thinks Milwaukee could be a breakthrough in part because engineer Eddie Jones has had success at the track before with other drivers. This is the first race of the year in which the team has relied solely on Jones for the car setup.

“I know the car is good. It feels really comfortable,” Rahal said. “I’m very confident in our engineering staff with Eddie. This is the first race that he’s built the setup and said `This is the way we are going to go’ and we did it that way on purpose because he’s always been good here.”

In the meantime, Rahal is looking forward to the second-half of the season, when RLL has a chance to step up its development program.

“We’ve been behind on development and there’s things we haven’t developed yet,” he said. “But my dad and all the guys have made the commitment financially to go forward. We’re going to do a lot over the next few weeks to try to improve. The schedule has been absolutely brutal on the teams. For me, I enjoy it, it’s not bad. But I just show up on a Friday or a Thursday and do my thing.

“But for these (crew) guys, they haven’t had a day off in I can’t even tell you how long. And when you are in a position like we’ve been in where you are struggling, to now try to make up lost ground, it’s impossible. So it kind of snowballs.”

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