Rahal Wins IndyCar Pole In St. Pete
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Like most young guys, 20-year-old Graham Rahal is wild about the Gulf Coast of Florida. But not for the sun nor surf nor sand. Rather, it’s the wonderful racing that they have over there on that coast which endears him to the area.
On Saturday, Rahal won the pole for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix through the streets of St. Petersburg.
The pole victory came a year after he secured a race victory in the IndyCar race in St. Pete.
Ah, life is great for young Rahal this weekend.
“I obviously love St. Pete,” he said. “It was good to me last year, and it’s great to be on the pole this year.”
The pole-winning time and speed were 1:02.4110 and 103.828 mph.
While happy about winning the pole, Rahal was kind of surprised by it.
“We didn’t really know what to expect because we had the primary tires on there while a couple of guys had the alternates,” he said. “The alternates were consistently faster today. I didn’t really know what to think. I’ll tell you what, the car was good, the guys were working hard, and it’s great to be on top.”
Second quickest was Justin Wilson, Rahal’s former teammate at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing who now drivers for Dale Coyne Racing.
With his qualifying effort, Wilson gave Coyne its best-ever starting spot.
”It’s great that we’re second,” Wilson said. “We’ve worked hard together up to this point. We’re such a small team in comparison to the guys we’re ahead of. So I’m very pleased, but at the same time I’m very competitive and even on a small team competing against big teams, I want to be on pole. I want to be the fastest. We had the chance today, but unfortunately we got held up and that ruined our best two laps. And we actually did our quickest lap on a second run on the same set of tires, so there’s a lot of potential in there.”
The second row will consist of Tony Kanaan of Andretti Green Racing and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske.
“It was a pretty good day for us,” Kanaan said. “We worked on the car very hard, but we were not sure if we had a top-three car this morning. After the first qualifying session we worked on the changes we needed and were able to improve the car. I am very pleased with the qualifying result but now we need to focus on the race.”
Today’s race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EDT and televised on Versus.
The starting lineup for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:
1. (02) Graham Rahal
2. (19) Justin Wilson
3. (11) Tony Kanaan
4. (6) Ryan Briscoe
5. (10) Dario Franchitti
6. (3) Will Power
7. (34) Alex Tagliani
8. (9) Scott Dixon
9. (2) R – Raphael Matos
10. (23) Darren Manning
11. (4) Dan Wheldon
12. (24) R – Mike Conway
13. (06) R – Robert Doornbos
14. (21) Ryan Hunter-Reay
15. (7) Danica Patrick
16. (13) E.J. Viso Caracas
17. (14) Vitor Meira Brasilia
18. (26) Marco Andretti
19. (27) Hideki Mutoh
20. (5) Mario Moraes
21. (98) R – Stanton Barrett
22. (20) Ed Carpenter
R – denotes rookieOne Comment