Graham Rahal says he’s now feeling “really good” in the cockpit of Team Penske’s Acura ARX-05 after a modification made to the car’s steering column to better fit his 6-foot 2-inch frame.
The IndyCar ace had initially stood down from returning to the No. 7 entry for the Michelin Endurance Cup races this year after not being fully comfortable in the DPi contender during his three-race program in 2018.
Rahal, however, was announced as a replacement to Alexander Rossi for this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans due to Rossi’s Bathurst 1000 drive.
A modification made to the steering column, which has been raised by roughly half an inch, has since given the second-generation driver the needed comfort and flexibility inside the cockpit.
“It makes a massive difference,” Rahal told Sportscar365.
“Last year, there was no way I’d ever be able to do a driver change without the steering wheel coming off. Now I can get in and out.
“Even getting that half-inch or inch makes a lot of space difference.
“It’s still tight but here at the test the other day, I did a few long runs and felt really good. It’s really not that different.
“Maybe there’s more that we could do but we’ll see how this goes.”
Rahal has been reunited with full-season co-drivers Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor this weekend, nearly one year after last driving the car.
He said he’s noticed significant gains with the overall package in the time since.
“The tires are night-and-day better than they were,” Rahal said. “These guys have made really good strides with the car.
“So a lot of the issues that we faced last year really aren’t prevalent at all.
“I’m pretty excited because with my driving style and my sensitivities to the car, it definitely suited my style a lot better.
“I think it will be a big improvement for sure.”
With the ergonomics now worked out, Rahal said he’s hopeful of being selected to contest the full slate of endurance races next year with the team.
“I hope so,” he said. “I haven’t talked to Tim [Cindric] or anybody about it. But I’m certainly very hopeful.
“I love this style of racing and could see a future here down the road so I’d love to do more.”