May 23, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
Both Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Oriol Servia tend to fly under the radar at Indianapolis all month.
Then on race day, with 20 laps to go, suddenly it seems an RLL car is in position to win and Servia’s running in the top five.
So add the two together and this year it should be perfect for Servia to pull the popular upset akin to what he nearly did at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis two weeks ago, right?
“That’s been what’s happened the last few years, but this time, I’d like to be at the front the whole time. Maybe I’ll change the pace,” Servia told MotorSportsTalk during Thursday’s IMS media day. “The 2011 year felt so good and was so much easier with only 2-3 cars ahead instead of 20.”
One other thing about 2011 – when Servia started third and finished sixth driving for Newman/Haas Racing – that was the last year Servia had an uninterrupted, not fragmented season where the Indy 500 was a transitional point of his year.
In 2012, he finished fourth in the ‘500 in his first race with a Chevrolet powerplant at Panther DRR after the team switched from the underpowered, woeful Lotus following the first four races. Last year, he ended 11th in what was just DRR’s temporary swan song.
“You know I promise you, it seems to always be my situation, but it doesn’t make it any easier,” said Servia, who said RLL is working on meetings with potential sponsors to add more races to his 2014 slate.
“You would think I get used to it – I don’t. All you can do is keep working at it for the results and hope that people want to jump in with us.”
Servia’s setup expertise is widely renowned in the paddock, through all the teams he has raced with. Finding the sweet spot is a challenge, but he’s optimistic they can do it.
“There’s a sweet spot this car has where all of a sudden it behaves a lot better,” he said. “When the field is so competitive as it is now, you need to be in the sweet spot or you don’t have a chance. It moves. Changes with temperature, things influence, ride height, things like this.”
Servia starts 18th and teammate Graham Rahal, in his first Indy 500 with National Guard sponsorship, 20th on Sunday. Rahal took time to preview Sunday’s race on Friday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show on NBCSN:
If they match their past accolades, expect the two of them to lay low, then arrive in contention late in the running.