Rahal Wins Mid-Ohio; Closes In On Points Lead

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 2 2015
Graham Rahal grabbed the IndyCar Series victory at his home track in Ohio on Sunday afternoon. He also put himself in position to win his first series championship.

Graham Rahal grabbed the IndyCar Series victory at his home track in Lexington, Ohio on Sunday afternoon. He also put himself in position to win his first series championship.

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Graham Rahal was not all that happy following Saturday’s qualifying session at his favorite race track. He was wonderfully happy following Sunday’s IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

bugindycarRahal won the Honda Indy 200 on the winding, flowing road circuit and in doing so took a significant step toward winning his first series championship.

The victory was his second of the season, it marked the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver’s fourth straight top-four finish and it moved him to within nine points of series points leader Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske.

“This is special for the Rahal family going back to the days of Jim Trueman,”
Rahal, a native of nearby New Albany, said. “I grew up at this place, running around when my dad was racing. This is a great win for the team at a special place.”

His father, Bob, a team co-owner, won at Mid-Ohio in 1985 and ’86.

Making Graham Rahal angry on Saturday was a qualifying run that failed to move him into the second round of the the three-round time trials. Afterward he pointed a finger of blame at Sage Karam and a block for his 13th-place spot on the starting grid.

But on Sunday, Rahal moved up, grabbed the lead for good on Lap 67 of the 90-lap race and from there held off road aces Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and pole-winner Scott Dixon to get the win – the special win.

Honestly, if I’d won a lot of races in my career but I never won this one, I think I’d be pretty disappointed,” Rahal said. “For me and the Steak ‘n Shake team, that win means more to me than anything else, means more than my first win to me. This is the best day.

“Strategy just worked today. Sometimes things just go your way and today was one of those days. For the Rahals, when it goes back to Jim Trueman (the late owner of his father’s car) and everyone else, this track has been pretty special to us for so, so many years. Jim was the man who founded this place, got this place going. He was also the one who got my dad started in racing. It’s come full circle.

“The crowd today was absolutely unbelievable. This hometown crowd was amazing and I appreciate the support so much. I remember standing on the podium with my dad here way back, I think it was his last year (racing here). There is a picture of me on the podium with him as a little kid. I was joking a couple of days ago that I have been on the podium at Mid-Ohio before but never on my own. There is no better way to go than to get to the top step I guess.”

Pagenaud, like Rahal, had to overcome poor qualifying to earn a trip to the podium.

“You know,” the Team Penske driver said, “it’s incredible.  I mean, we had the worst qualifying of the year, but we actually have a podium at the end.  It’s funny how it works. 

“We qualified well all season long, couldn’t really finish it.  This time we did.  Really good strategy from the team.  A little bit of luck doesn’t hurt.  We haven’t had much this year. 

“At the back of my mind, it’s a bit of a disappointing day for the team in general.  Obviously we want one Penske car to win the championship.  We all have that in the back of our mind.  But Graham was incredible today.”


Tony Kanaan finished fifth.

Montoya led 21 laps in the middle of the race but finished 12th.

“From where we were on Friday to today was a huge difference,” Montoya said. “We did everything we were supposed to do today and the race was playing out perfectly for us. Unfortunately we got a caution with about 25 laps to go that we didn’t need. It worked out for some and didn’t work out for others. But we had a great car and we still have the points lead.”

Dixon, a five-time winner at Mid-Ohio, is now third in  points,  26 behind Rahal.

“It’s tough when everyone has the same pace and everyone is on the same tire,” Dixon said. “With the new aero kits there’s just such a big wake behind the cars and it sometimes makes it tough to get around people. We were trying to lineup for that last restart there and the leader went way early there. Not a bad day for the Target car overall in the points and moved up a bit in the championship race.”

(This story will be updated shortly)

Results Sunday of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1.  (13) Graham Rahal, Honda, 90, Running
2.  (14) Justin Wilson, Honda, 90, Running
3.  (15) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 90, Running
4.  (1) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 90, Running
5.  (8) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 90, Running
6.  (24) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 90, Running
7.  (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 90, Running
8.  (11) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 90, Running
9.  (23) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 90, Running
10.  (12) Marco Andretti, Honda, 90, Running
11.  (10) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 90, Running
12.  (21) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 90, Running
13.  (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 90, Running
14.  (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 90, Running
15.  (4) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 90, Running
16.  (17) James Jakes, Honda, 90, Running
17.  (3) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 90, Running
18.  (20) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 90, Running
19.  (18) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 90, Running
20.  (22) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Honda, 90, Running
21.  (9) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 89, Off course
22.  (19) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 89, Running
23.  (6) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 87, Running
24.  (16) Takuma Sato, Honda, 60, Contact

Race Statistics        
Winners average speed:  105.720
Time of Race: 01:55:20.0864
Margin of victory: 3.4049  seconds
Cautions: 4 for 16 laps
Lead changes: 7 among 7 drivers
Lap Leaders:        
Dixon 1 – 22
Vautier 23 – 32
Wilson 33 – 38
Montoya 39 – 40
Newgarden 41 – 42
Castroneves 43 – 48
Montoya 49 – 67
Rahal 68 – 90
Verizon IndyCar Series Point Standings: Montoya 465, Rahal 456, Dixon 431, Castroneves 407, Power 406, Bourdais 379, Andretti 378, Newgarden 370, Kanaan 354, Pagenaud 329.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 2 2015
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