INDIANAPOLIS – One of these years, Graham Rahal is going to be the one dominating the IndyCar Grand Prix. In 2015, race winner Will Power said that if Rahal was in a Chevrolet powered car he would have easily won. In 2016, race winner Simon Pagenaud said if Rahal started up front (he was supposed to start third if not for his car failing tech) he would have easily won again.
This year, Rahal started 20th out of 22 cars and he still finished sixth, his best result of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
“It’s good and bad. I take pride in my race craft,” Rahal said of climbing through the field once again at Indy. “You better believe I wish my job was better than that. Today, we had a car to win this race. I guarantee you that. It’s disappointing starting where we start because we put ourselves in that hole.”
Rahal, was very vocal on the radio on his first stint that his car just couldn’t do anything on the two long straights on the 2.439-mile IMS road course, and a car was holding him up. He had the speed to get by, but on the straights, the car would pull away.
After several obscenities, he calmed and drove another fine race.
“At the start, (Carlos) Munoz was making like tough,” Rahal said about that. “He was fast on the straights. It was difficult to come claw back from behind him. We lost a lot of time there. But, our strategy worked and the guys did a great job.”
I asked Rahal if it was satisfying that despite that lack of speed, he still finished sixth. His answer was eye opening.
“Our car is really slow on the straight,” Rahal told me. “We’re more trimmed out than a lot of these guys. This is something we’ve got to look at. Something is concerning me. If I showed you guys the data you’d laugh. This morning, in every single sector, I was first or second quickest in every single corner, every single one, yet I was slowest down every single straight. There’s something weird going on, but it kills us. When you’re lose that amount of time on the straightaways, there’s only so much I can do in the cockpit to make up for it.”
I wanted to know what Rahal meant by that. Was it the Honda package, a single-car team, what was it?
“It has nothing to do with either of those things, there’s something kind of funky going on,” Rahal continued. “I think the Honda was obviously very competitive today. I could see Power on the big screens and I was catching him.”
Despite all of that, he has his second top 10 and moves up to 13th in the standings.
“People think I make excuses all the time, but everything that has gone against us has gone against us.”