Rahal King Of The Belle Isle Ball

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 4 2017

IndyCar driver Graham Rahal was Dr. Detroit this weekend. (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

Graham Rahal’s season of discontent did a 180 in Detroit over the weekend as he and his Rahal Letterman Lanigan team swept both races of  Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at the Belle Isle Park street course.

Rahal dominated the first race of the weekend doubleheader on Saturday and then came back to do the same in the nightcap on Sunday.

In that nightcap, Rahal, in the No. 15 RLL Honda, survived a two-lap dash to the checkered flag, holding off Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden by 1.1772 seconds. Rahal  became the first driver to sweep an IndyCar Series doubleheader weekend since Scott Dixon won both races on the streets of Toronto in 2013.

For Ohio native Rahal, the win was particularly sweet.

“Buckeyes like to win in this state,” he said.

“It’s a tremendous event. And thank Mother Nature – we’ve never had this kind of luck around here.

“It feels great, trust me. Any day you can beat a Penske driver it means a lot. After the race and lead we had, it blew up in the last two laps and the red flag comes out. I’m glad we came out on top. I didn’t think he (Josef) had anything for us as long as we could clear traffic.  Our lead went down from 18 seconds to six or so just due to traffic but in the clear I could gap them again. I knew it would be tough but I thought we could hold him off. The marbles were bad so those (last two) laps were ugly, they were ugly! But we won and it feels great. All around it was just a spectacular weekend for us.”

With the two wins, Rahal vaulted nine spots in the championship standings, to sixth place after eight of 17 races. The 28-year-old Ohioan is the first driver to win two races this season.

Rahal led 41 of the 70 laps on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn circuit that has hosted 24 Indy car races since 1992. The race ran caution-free until James Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda stopped on course on Lap 66. As the cars packed up behind the pace car, Spencer Pigot’s No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet pulled off with smoke trailing from the rear of the car.

INDYCAR officials decided to red-flag the race, bringing all cars into the pits at the conclusion of Lap 67, to give track workers time to clean up both incidents. The green flag waved at the end of Lap 68 and Rahal pulled away from Newgarden in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Will Power finished third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

Pole sitter and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato led 22 laps but finished fourth in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda. Scott Dixon finished sixth in the No. 9 Camping World Honda and the four-time series champion retained the points lead he grabbed Saturday. Dixon unofficially has 303 points, eight more than Helio Castroneves and 11 more than Sato.

(This story will be updated shortly)


DETROIT – Results Sunday of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear Race 2 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.35-mile Raceway at Belle Isle Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (3) Graham Rahal, Honda, 70, Running
2. (13) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 70, Running
3. (7) Will Power, Chevrolet, 70, Running
4. (1) Takuma Sato, Honda, 70, Running
5. (11) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 70, Running
6. (8) Scott Dixon, Honda, 70, Running
7. (14) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 70, Running
8. (12) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 70, Running
9. (4) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 70, Running
10. (15) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 70, Running
11. (22) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 70, Running
12. (10) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 70, Running
13. (9) Marco Andretti, Honda, 70, Running
14. (19) Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 70, Running
15. (16) Max Chilton, Honda, 69, Running
16. (6) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 69, Running
17. (2) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 69, Running
18. (18) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 69, Running
19. (20) Oriol Servia, Honda, 69, Running
20. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 65, Mechanical
21. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 65, Mechanical
22. (17) Ed Jones, Honda, 60, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 105.442 mph
Time of race: 1:33:36.3769
Margin of victory: 1.1772 seconds
Cautions: 1 for 2 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 3 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Sato 1-22
Rahal 23-24
Newgarden 25-29
Rahal 30-47
Newgarden 48-49
Rahal 50-70

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Dixon 303, Castroneves 295, Sato 292, Pagenaud 278, Newgarden 259, Rahal 251, Rossi 246, Power 233, Kanaan 223, Hinchcliffe 216.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 4 2017
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