Graham Rahal has the speed to compete in the NTT Data IndyCar Series. As a six-time winner in the series, he has the talent.
But, it just hasn’t come together as of late for the New Albany, Ohio native.
Last week’s race at Iowa Speedway was no different for Rahal, either.
Graham Rahal says results will come ahead of home track Mid-Ohio
Rahal had a fast car and was running well throughout the race, but suffered an engine issue with about 100 laps remaining, causing him to lose power in his car.
With 37 laps remaining, a caution came out for a spinning Ed Carpenter. Rahal’s pit crew was ready to go.
“That last pit stop was amazing,” Rahal said of his crew after the race. “We gained three or four spots. That was great work by them.”
Rahal would go on to hold off a charging Sebastien Bourdais, even with the lowly powered car, salvaging an eighth-place finish.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing,” Rahal said. “It just didn’t work out quite the way I wanted it to, but our guys pushed hard. We had a decent car. You could say there was a lot of guys had bad cars tonight, but ours was decent. It had good pace even at the end there to hold off Bourdais. All is good. We just got to keep soldiering on.”
After Iowa, Rahal coincidentally remained in the eighth position in standings, and even gained some ground on the drivers immediately in front of him.
Despite being on the outside looking in of a championship, he’s still paying attention to the points race.
“You’re always paying attention to it,” Rahal said. “We’re happy with the points that we gathered here. It could have been better. Honestly this year, we haven’t had a lot of breaks, and I can’t explain why that is, but hopefully it’s going to turn around very soon.”
This is an all too familiar scene for Rahal, though.
His career has been riddled with bad luck.
During his best points finish of his career in 2015, Rahal won at Mid-Ohio and was nine points behind Juan Pablo Montoya going into the final pair of races of the year.
He qualified in the front three rows at each of the final two tracks, but only had a 20th and 18th-place finish to show for it.
Rahal finished fourth in the standings.
“I’m going to be honest,” Rahal said. “A lot of my career has kind of been like that. While it’s frustrating, you’ve just got to keep soldiering on. At some point it’s going to turn. It has to turn. I don’t know what else to say.”
Now as the series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a track where he grew up at, Rahal will try to hone down the familiarity and go for his first win there since 2015.
Dating back to 2014, Rahal hasn’t finished outside the top five just once (P9 in 2018) in the past five races there. That includes a second career podium at his home track in 2017.
“For sure,” Rahal said. “There’s been a lot of Rahal fans with my father for many years, so it’s a homecoming for me and I’m excited about it There is great fan support which is probably the best part of it for me. I grew up going there and it is really one of the races that made me fall in love with Indy car racing. I have been very fortunate to win it in 2015, which is probably my best memory ever in racing.”
The results give Rahal something that can be utilized very well when having any kind of bad luck:
That familiarity and feeling of being at home is something that we’ve seen pay many dividends to racers. It might be one of the reasons that Rahal has faired so well there in the past.
“I have a lot of confidence about Mid-Ohio,” Rahal said. “The home track always gives you that little bit extra that you don’t know you have. We’ve done well there before and I feel like we’re going to have a good weekend.”
On top of the hometown fans in Ohio, Rahal will also be dawning some Ohio colors this weekend.
“I hope this year with Fifth Third Bank on the car – another Ohio company – that we can get it done again,” Rahal said. “Road course racing has been up and down for our team this year. Barber and Road America were very good but there have been other tracks that we did struggle.”
If Rahal and his team can make all of the hometown buzz come together, it’s bound to be a point of turnaround in not only this season, but Rahal’s entire IndyCar career.
It would be a glimmer of success that Rahal hasn’t seen since his last series victory at Detroit in 2017.
“I hope we can go back and have some more success of our own,” Rahal said. “We’ve had some great runs over the last handful of years and hopefully, we can this year as well.”
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