Graham Rahal is off to his best start to a Verizon IndyCar Series season ever. He has finished in the top 10 in all three races already, a feat that he didn’t have until well past this point in the past. Most years, by time Rahal got his third top 10 finish, the calendar said June.
Heading into Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (3:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network), Rahal sits third in the standings, 33 points out. But, this weekend he knows he has to run well and capitalize.
Alexander Rossi is pulling away from the field. He has finished on the podium in all three races this season and heading to his best tracks – natural road courses. Barber Motorsports Park is a circuit that suits Rossi’s driving style. What happens with a guy as hot as Rossi, that has finished inside the top six in eight of the last nine races, including a win just last week, comes to one of his better circuits?
Rahal knows and that’s why he can’t let Rossi get too far ahead.
“Our preseason test went well at Barber,” said Rahal. “I think we were fortunate that we went to the first one because the weather cooperated and we got good track time with this car, unlike the open test. I think it’s going to be interesting to see what conditions we get as we go back for the race. I think the new aero kit it has met expectations. It seemed like at Long Beach it really helped passing. You were able to follow a lot closer. Barber has always put on a great race, but I think that this year it could be even better. Depending on tire degradation and things like that, I think this new car could put on a very exciting race at Barber. We have always been pretty strong at Barber but last year wasn’t that great for us. In general, it’s a place we should be good at and I hope we can carry on the progress that we have been making in terms of competitiveness. I think it could be a great weekend for us. The team has worked hard and we’ve been fortunate to sneak in a couple of good results so far, even with some difficulties, and hopefully we can keep that going. We are just going to keep our heads down, work hard and stay focused on the end goal. I certainly hope that we can keep this thing going and go into Indy with a lot of momentum as we have done. I’m really excited about where we are and I think things are looking pretty good.”
Plus, Barber is one of Rahal’s best tracks too. In two of the last three years, he’s brought his No. 15 Honda home runner-up on the 2.3-mile Alabama road course. He’s due for a win, especially at Barber.
The only problem is that he will roll off 15th on Sunday. No one has ever won this race from a starting spot outside of the top 10. That’s a factor against Rahal. But, with rain on the forecast for Sunday, that could throw a wrench in things.
Watch out for him on Sunday.