Nearly 4 weeks may have passed since the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach but Graham Rahal remains convinced he lost a genuine podium finish on the California streets. Penalized by stewards for blocking eventual podium finisher Scott Dixon, Rahal took the checkered an unhappy 4th.
“Am I disappointed with the ruling? Absolutely, I don’t agree with the penalty”, said the Rahal Leterman Lannigan Racing driver.
Race officials handed the Honda driver a time penalty for ‘reactionary blocking’ on the final lap of the race. Dropping him behind Dixon, despite Rahal’s United Rentals machine crossing the finishing line ahead.
Rahal: “I am focused on the Grand Prix. I want to win it bad”
Rahal – who was on course to break a streak of non-podium stretching back to the season opening race of 2018 – may still be sore about the one that got away but is not about to let it undermine his focus on the month of May.
“I am motivated no matter what”, said the 30-year-old when asked if the Long Beach result has given him extra impetus heading into this weekend’s INDYCAR Grand Prix. “I am focused on the Grand Prix. I want to win it bad.”
A runner-up finish in the 2015 INDYCAR Grand Prix remains Rahal’s best result on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Though the race has been dominated in recent years by Team Penske’s Will Power, Rahal expects a much tighter race in 2019.
Can anyone beat Will Power?
“I am hopeful we should be very competitive in the Grand Prix. It seemed at the test that it will be extremely close and times will be split by hairs”, he explained. “We’ve been close before but never gotten the trick done, so hopefully this is our year.”
Rahal and the rest of the NTT INDYCAR field will have their work cut out this Saturday to beat the unofficial ‘king’ of the IMS road course, Power.
The reigning INDYCAR Grand Prix winner has claimed the top step of the podium in three out of the last four occasions. Accounting for a staggering 60% of the INDYCAR races held on the ‘roval’ configuration.
Power then went on to win his maiden Indianapolis 500 last year. Rahal, however, is wary of overlooking this weekend’s race in favour of the big one at the end of the month.
“I will turn my attention to the Indy 500 the second the GP is over and we will get ready to have a great Indy 500 from there on out”, he said.
The INDYCAR Grand Prix weekend starts with practice Friday, May 10 from 9.10am (local) before qualifying for the Firestone Fast Six and NTT P1 Award from 4.30pm. NBSCN will carry live coverage of qualifying.
The green flag drops on the 85-lap race around the IMS road course at 3.50pm Saturday, May 11 with live coverage on NBC.