Graham Rahal believes his “love/hate relationship” with Texas Motor Speedway will be critical in deciding the fate of his 2018 Verizon IndyCar series championship hopes.
Rahal’s ‘love/hate’ relationship with Texas
A costly mistake during last weekend’s Detroit Grand Prix saw Rahal fall out of the top 5 in points, something the Honda driver is keen to rectify this Saturday night in the DXC Technology 600.
“It has been a love/hate relationship for me at Texas Motor Speedway my whole career. I have had some really good moments and some moments that weren’t so good”, said Rahal ahead of the 357-mile race. “I have had some really good moments and some moments that weren’t so good.”
Having flown under the radar during the opening rounds of the 2018 IndyCar season, Rahal sat comfortably within the top 5 in points. An unusual situation for the 29-year-old who has become synonymous with coming into championship contention in the second half of the season.
But a crash in race 1 at Detroit dropped Rahal to 7th, 88 points adrift of leader Will Power.
Rahal believes his form at Texas in the last few seasons – including a win in 2016 – should, however, put him in the frame for a strong finish: “In recent years it has certainly been more on the love side since we have had some great results. I think it’s a place we can go to and have a good result, so I’m definitely excited to get out there and get running.”
Rahal: “it’s going to be very difficult to run together”
One potential curve-ball for Rahal and the rest of the field will be how IndyCar’s latest aero kit configuration handles the high-speeds and high-banking at Texas: “I think the new aero kit is going to behave quite differently than it did at Indy, but I also think that when we show up it’s going to be a real work in progress.”
According to Rahal one thing, however, will remain consistent from this year’s Indy 500: the difficulty of passing.
“If you look at the way the aero package is set up currently, I think that it’s going to be very difficult to run together”, explained Rahal of the issues experienced at the Brickyard last month. “But I did not test there (Texas) so I’m not a great judge of that because I haven’t had any laps there yet”, continued the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver.
Keen to get back in the hunt for the IndyCar championship
As the likes of Power, Rossi, Hunter-Ready, Newgarden and Dixon mark themselves out as championship candidates, Rahal is eager to get back amongst the leading pack: “I definitely think that we’re in a pretty good spot. We’ve just got to keep it going. A good, solid weekend will help a ton, points-wise. It would get us right up there in the hunt.”
This weekend’s DXC Technology 600 from Texas Motor Speedway starts with practice Friday 9 June from 11.30am and qualifying at 3 pm (all times local). Watch practice live here.
The race itself takes the green flag at 7.45pm on Saturday 10 June for 248 laps of the 1.5mile oval, broadcast live on NBSCN (times local).