Race Weekend Central

Graham Rahal Ends ‘Smooth’ Day Just Short of Win in Indianapolis

Graham Rahal did everything he needed to do at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to break a winless streak that dates back to 2017 when he swept the doubleheader weekend at Detroit.

After capturing the pole for the Gallagher Grand Prix on Friday afternoon, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver had a flawless run Saturday, leading a race-high 36 laps while having what he called a “smooth day.” It wasn’t enough, though, as Scott Dixon was just a tick better, beating Rahal to the famous Yard of Bricks by just 0.4779 seconds to win for the first time this season and the 54th of his storied career.

Rahal led the race as late as lap 64 when he pitted for the third and final time. Dixon, who had pitted five laps earlier, cycled to the lead and paced the field the rest of the way.

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Scott Dixon Plays Strategy, Holds Off Graham Rahal to Win at Indianapolis

Down more than seven seconds after coming out of the pits, Rahal started charging, slicing into Dixon’s lead with each lap. Rahal threw everything he had at the Kiwi, but could never get close enough to make a decisive move. While disappointed, telling NBC Sports post-race “I’m not bummed, but I’m bummed”, he tried to focus on the positives.

“I think we did it right today,” Rahal said, “but that’s the way racing goes. We have nothing to be ashamed of, we laid it all on the line and did a great job as an organization this weekend. It was a straightforward day which was really refreshing for the year we’ve been having.”

Still, the weekend was a bit of redemption, both for Rahal and the team after a disastrous result in May when Rahal was bumped from the field for the Indianapolis 500, and his two teammates, Christian Lundgaard and Jack Harvey, started in the last row.

That led to some changes within the organization, and since then the team has been showing gradual improvement with each race weekend.

The results have been promising. Lundgaard won a pole at Mid-Ohio and picked up the first win of his IndyCar career at Toronto, and has two additional top-five finishes. Rahal, meanwhile, qualified next to his teammate on the front row at Mid-Ohio and has two other top-10 results.

“To get a podium in a year like this feels good,” Rahal said. “These guys have worked extremely, extremely hard to be here, and to get this organization back on track. It’s good to see the fruits of their labor starting to show and to go out there and challenge really hard. The guys gave me a car I could really attack with today. We’re genuinely getting a lot better.”

After an off week, the series will head to WWT Raceway in two weeks for the final oval race of the season for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. The green flag will fall at 3:30 p.m. EDT on August 27.

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