GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Bobby Rahal Automotive Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “Most importantly, I’m hoping for good news on Robbie. I’m sure he is a little banged up which we all would be in that situation. I started racing against Robbie and Hinch when I was 10 years old. We’ve had a lot of good battles over the years and he’s had an amazing year so I hope that his recovery will be extremely quick and he’s back out here with us. It’s a real shame about the start of the race because I think our car might have been better than Rossi’s. It was a very good race car. It’s a shame but we can take a lot of positives out of this and move forward so I’m pretty pleased.”
- FAST FACTS: On the start as the field approached the acceleration zone, many drivers reported front-runners accelerating then quickly jumping on the brakes. This caught Rahal off guard and he hit Spencer Pigot. Both incurred damage but the pit didn’t open for a few laps as the field was put in order. Once the pits opened, Rahal pitted for a new front nose and was leaving the pits when a five-car crash happened that involved Ryan Hunter-Reay, Robert Wickens, James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato and Pietro Fittipaldi. The race was ultimately red flagged for almost two hours while the fencing was repaired. Once restarted, he was in 16th place, and three laps down due to a two-lap penalty for the team working on the car during the red flag as well as a lost lap due to the earlier stop. He moved up to 15th when Kanaan retired and into 14th when Conor Daly brushed the wall. He took the checkered flag in 14th place, four laps down. It was his sixth race here.
- His highest start is fifth in 2015 and his highest finish is 9th last year although he has run in the top-five all but two races. In 2017, he started seventh, was running fourth near the halfway point of the 200-lap race and later restarted the race in second place on Lap 118 and swapped the lead with Kanaan repeatedly the rest of the stint although he was only credited with nine laps led due to leading many laps in the back of the track but giving up the spot before the start/finish line. After his fifth stop on Lap 151 he returned to the track behind Kanaan and Andretti, who passed him in the pits. Right after that, he ran three-wide with Munoz and Castroneves but backed out to avoid contact. After that, a group of cars was able to carry momentum around him and he ran 13th. He climbed back up to ninth place, which he held for the final 10 laps.
- In 2016, he started 11th, ran as high as fourth and finished 11th.
- In 2015, he entered the race second in the point standings and started fifth. He ran in the top-eight until a fueling problem on his second pit stop dropped him to 20th place. On Lap 66 of 200, he was in 16th place on a restart and got a run on Justin Wilson and pulled inside him on track. They were two-wide until Tristan Vautier decided to dive low inside, partially on the track, and make it three-wide. Vautier made contact with Rahal and spun the two into the wall. Both were checked and released from the medical center. The DNF in 20th place hindered his title bid after having entered the penultimate race in second place and only 9 points behind leader Montoya who finished third and increased his lead to 34 points entering the double-points season-finale in Sonoma.
- In 2014, he started 14th and moved into 11th on the opening lap but his helmet pad on the right side of the cockpit flew out of the car and he gradually dropped to 19th. The helmet pad helps the drivers head stay upright while sustaining high G-Forces for 200 laps and he was unable to see as well. Once he made his first stop and the team replaced the helmet pad, he steadily climbed back up the field and ran 12th midway through the race and held the fastest lap of the race through his third stint. He was in 11th place when a problem surfaced on Lap 158/200. The car appeared to abruptly change and Rahal spun. The side of the car made contact with the Turn 2 wall and he ultimately retired in 19th place.
- In 2013 he qualified 17th, started 16th due to a grid penalty ahead and finished 18th. Graham is looking forward to the race after having a competitive car here in 2017…
- His top finish this season is second at St. Pete and top start is fifth at Long Beach… Rahal is eighth in series point standings with a total of 351. He is 60 points behind fifth place Ryan Hunter-Reay.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!