Race Weekend Central

Last-Minute Run From Jack Harvey Bumps RLL Teammate Graham Rahal From Indy 500 Field

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway offers no guarantees, no matter who you are.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver Graham Rahal has started 263 NTT IndyCar Series races in his career, and has won six of them. He’s driven in the Indianapolis 500 14 times, has led 42 laps and has notched three top-five finishes.

None of that matters, because when the green flag drops at the Brickyard next Sunday afternoon (May 21), Rahal and his No. 15 machine will be on the sidelines. With no time left on the clock in the Last Chance Qalifier, the 34-year-old Rahal was bumped from the race by teammate Jack Harvey.

This comes almost 30 years to the day that Rahal’s father, RLL team principal Bobby Rahal was bumped from the race in 1993.

“Everybody puts a lot into this, we just came up short,” an emotional Rahal said. “It doesn’t come easy [here], it doesn’t just happen, and we weren’t good enough.

“I knew from the start we were in trouble.”

Finding speed had been an issue for RLL since the cars rolled out for practice on Wednesday. Katherine Legge, who joined RLL as a one-off effort, was able to qualify 30th in the opening round of qualifying Saturday and had locked in a spot for the race.

But the three full-time drivers – Harvey, Rahal and Christian Lundgaard – all found themselves in the Last Chance round.

Going out first, Lundgaard posted a time that all but locked him into the field, and through one round, Rahal was on the bubble and Harvey was on the outside looking in.

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With six minutes to go, Harvey completed a four-lap run that was just short of Rahal’s time. As the clock kept ticking, his No. 30 team threw on a fresh set of tires, pushed him back to the qualifying line, and gave it another shot.

Through three-and-a-half laps the 30-year-old Englishman was tracking behind his teammate, but held on to the stripe for a 4-lap average of 229.166 mph to bump Rahal by just .0044 seconds and lock in his seventh Indy 500 start.

“We had done two attempts, and on the final one I asked the guys if we could even do this, and they said to go for it, it’s the Indy 500,” Harvey said. “I did the best four laps that I could.”

It was a bittersweet moment for Harvey, who called Rahal a fantastic teammate and counts him among his closest friends. While he was happy for himself and all of the people who work on his car, in the end his success came at the expense of a teammate. It was a hard experience to process.

Harvey said he just wanted to go home and go to sleep and put an end to the day.

“I felt like [Sunday] was the Hunger Games within our own team,” Harvey said. “I’m massively grateful to be in the race, but massively disappointed to knock out a teammate. I want to be in the race, but at the end of the day we are a united effort.”

Baseball is considered a game of inches, but in the world of IndyCar, it’s a game of razor-thin edges. The final difference between Harvey and Rahal over the course of their 10-mile runs was 44-thousandths of a second, meaning the final spot in the greatest race in the world was decided by about the length of an elementary school ruler.

According to Indy 500 rules, it is the car that qualifies, and not the driver, meaning Rahal could replace one of his teammates and start at the rear of the field. So far there are no indications that the team is considering that option.

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