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Rahal Cooks At Home

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, August 7 2010

Graham Rahal tops practice at Mid-Ohio. (RacinToday.com file photo by Mark Henderson/Really Really Big Industries Inc.)

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Ohio native Graham Rahal topped the time chart during Friday’s initial IZOD IndyCar Series practice session for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

A native of New Albany, Ohio, Rahal posted a best lap of 1 minute, 8.3061-seconds around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit in Lexington. Rahal is competing in this second race of the season for Newman/Haas Racing in the No. 02 National Tire & Battery Dallara/Honda.

Series championship points-leader Will Power was second (1:08.3301) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda.

“We definitely struggled at the start of practice,” said Rahal, the 21-year-old second generation driver. “We had a hard time getting it right. We felt really low on grip during the first run. We were really off.

“The thing that is obvious to me is that it’s really close and very competitive. At one point, I was 10th, but only a tenth (of-a-second) off. But I really wanted to be fastest on the first day at home. It feels good. I am a little bit surprised, especially where we came from. I was a little bit worried. We tried a whole bunch of things and I think I had a better lap in me, but I locked up a little bit and messed up a lap. The good thing is the car is nowhere close for me. There’s a lot we need to improve on.”

Rahal will be making his seventh start of the season in Sunday’s race, Round 12 of the 17-event series. Rahal posted his highest finish of the season with a fifth-place effort for NHR on the Streets of Toronto on July 18.

Rahal has competed in various other series at Mid-Ohio, his “home track.” In 2009, he started fourth and looked likely to finish fourth in the IndyCar race before an off-track excursion while running fifth late led to an eighth-place finish.

In 2008, he started 14th and ran as high as eighth, but another off-track excursion on Lap 53 relegated him to a 16th-place finish. At the age of 16 in 2005, Rahal became the youngest driver to claim the SCCA National Formula Atlantic championship at the National Championship Runoffs by a dominant 43-seconds.

Friday’s hour-long session featured the top 22 cars separated by less than a second. J.R. Hildebrand, the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion who is making his IndyCar Series debut in the No. 24 RollCoater/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car, placed seventh overall (1:08.6340).

Another 60-minute practice session Saturday will precede the three rounds of qualifying at 6 p.m. (EDT) to be televised on VERSUS. Sunday’s 85-lap/191.25-mile Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance will be televised live beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on VERSUS.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Saturday, August 7 2010
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