INDIANAPOLIS – After a disappointing weekend at Belle Isle that saw Graham Rahal finish fourth and 11th respectively, he now considers this season a lost one, as he’s just wanting to go out and have fun doing what he loves the rest of the way. As the checkered flag flew on the second Chevrolet Dual in Detroit on Sunday afternoon, it signified the halfway point of the 2016 season as well, as we’ve now completed eight races this year with eight races to go.
At this point last year, Rahal was very much in the hunt for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship. But, at the midway mark now, he finds himself 12th in the standings as he trails points leader Simon Pagenaud by 132 points with eight races remaining.
“That pretty much takes us out of contention for the championship this year,” Rahal said after his 11th place finish at Belle Isle. “We might as well go have some fun now.”
Rahal definitely isn’t out of it yet per say, but he’s got a tall task on his hands if he wants to be the champion. The Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing driver needs to win races and do so bunches, as well as hope for bad luck for Pagenaud and the other 10 guys in front of him in the standings.
Unfortunately for the second generation driver, he hasn’t had a terrible year results wise as he has four top fives in those eight races so far including three top fives in his last five races, but, Pagenaud has been historically strong out of the gates as he has three wins and three more second place finishes to his credit giving him six top twos in his eight starts.
That puts Rahal as well as the other competitors way behind, as Rahal needs to have that type of run in the final half of the season just to be in the mix. He knows that, hence the comments he made after the race.
Now, Rahal can still get as high as second in the standings though, as he only trails second place Scott Dixon by just 52 points. There’s way more than enough time to close that gap, as he’s actually only 17 points out of fifth place right now too.
So, to say his season is done couldn’t be further from the truth.
Can we win the title?
Realistically it’s a long shot, but he can get a runner-up in the standings and do so while having fun.
Rahal knows the pressure is off now and I expect to see what we saw out of him last year. He’s had the cars, he’s had the pace and he has the talent. All that will come together as soon as this weekend in Texas.