James Jakes: Bobby Rahal comes in handy


James Jakes is proud to have a car owner in Bobby Rahal that continues to support him in a first season full of struggles.

James Jakes hadn't seen the tweet his car owner, Bobby Rahal had sent out on Monday afternoon in support of his driver until SB Nation brought it up in an exclusive interview on Thursday afternoon. Now that he has, he says he is grateful for Rahal and his efforts to continually improve the team.

Jakes added that he and Rahal share the same desire to win and that he is still a positive role model around the shop.

"He's great," Jakes said. "He's a guy that comes in handy around the shop -- always available to share his experiences. He still has that instinct and wants to know why we're not winning."

This is Jakes first season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and the team has been one of the notable disappointments in the first half of the season as the team expected to contend for the championship with Graham Rahal and receive a steady stream of support from Jakes.

Instead, Rahal has struggled mightily at times but buoyed by strong performances at Long Beach, Belle Isle and Iowa. Jakes has been the more consistent of the two and they enter this weekend's twin races at Toronto in 16th and 17th in the championship standings.

Jakes hoped for more but has realistic expectations after his program was put together late in the off-season.

"It's tough because this season has been hugely competitive," Jakes said. "It's so easy to fall behind if you go in a direction where you're not improving. We started late and only had one test date but I do think we're starting to see definite improvement."

The British driver came to IndyCar three years ago from the Formula 1 ladder system and has had the most difficulty adjusting to the ovals. But he's starting to come around, scoring a 12th at Pocono, which ties a season-best from Fort Worth earlier in the summer.

The key for Jakes has been taking what the car gives him on non-road and street courses.

"The thing that surprised me the most in coming over to IndyCar is how much more patient you have to be on the ovals," Jakes said. "On road and street courses, you can attack when the opportunity presents itself but that's not the case on ovals. The set-up is so important and timing is really important."

Jakes enters this weekend at Toronto in a more familiar setting, after scoring an eighth-place in last year's race at Exhibition Place. Jakes added that he's still undecided on the doubleheader format after just one attempt at Detroit last month but is looking forward to two attempts at victory lane in one weekend.

"We've been competitive on the street courses this year and we're just looking to build some momentum this weekend."

The Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader will take place on Saturday and Sunday -- both at 3 p.m. ET. Both races will air on the NBC Sports Network.

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