Rahal dynasty still rules the Mid-Ohio road

Rahal dynasty still rules the Mid-Ohio road

Postby meteorite » Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:22 pm

Hometown Hero Rahal Wins Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 2, 2015) - Graham Rahal's surge in the second half of the Verizon IndyCar Series season continued with an emphatic victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Rahal, who started 13th in the 90-lap race in the No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, corralled his second victory of the season and third of his Indy car career.

The New Albany, Ohio, native closed to within nine points of Verizon IndyCar Series championship front-runner Juan Pablo Montoya with two races left in the season. There are a total of 10 drivers still mathematically eligible for the championship and the chance to hoist the Astor Cup at season's end.

Since earning his first victory of the season June 27 at Auto Club Speedway - his first win since March 2008 - Rahal has placed third, fourth and first to challenge for his first series title.

Rahal's father, Bob, a co-owner of Graham's team, won the Indy car races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1985 and '86.

"This track has been special for the Rahal family going back to the days of Jim Trueman," said Graham Rahal, who wore an Ohio State University football-themed helmet. "Jim was the man who founded this place, got this place going. He was also the one who got my dad started in racing.

"I grew up at this place, running around when my dad was racing. It's come full circle."

Rahal is the eighth different winner in nine road/street course races this season. He picked up the lead for good on Lap 67 when the lead pack of cars, including race leader Montoya, pitted under caution for their final fuel/tire service.

That caution resulted from a single-car spin by rookie Sage Karam, whose No. 8 car stalled on track. INDYCAR stewards announced the spin would be subject to a post-race review.

Rahal then fended off Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon on a Lap 84 restart on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course following a full-course caution and went on to win by 3.4 seconds.

Wilson, who started 14th in the No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda, placed a season-high second. Pagenaud also was a big mover in the race, advancing 12 positions relative to his starting spot in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet to finish third - matching his best finish of the season from Belle Isle-1. Dixon, a five-time winner at Mid-Ohio, started from the pole and finished fourth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He is 25 points behind Rahal in the title chase.

Montoya, who started 10th in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Chevrolet and led 21 laps in the middle of the race, finished 12th.

"Everyone on the Hawk Performance Chevy did an amazing job," said Montoya, who has topped the standings since winning the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. "We did everything we were supposed to do today and the race was playing out perfectly for us. Unfortunately, we got a caution with about 25 laps to go that we didn't need. It worked out for some and didn't work out for others. But we had a great car and we still have the points lead. Ready for Pocono where we won last year."

The next race on the schedule is the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on Aug. 23. The season wraps up a week later with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, which offers double points.

Sato Celebrates 100th Verizon IndyCar Series Start with Family, Fans

On one side of Takuma Sato's racing helmet in script was "Sao Paulo 001" and on the opposite side was "Mid-Ohio 100." Down the middle were outlines of various tracks where Sato has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series - with a star in Long Beach to commemorate his 2013 victory in the venerable street course race.

The AJ Foyt Racing driver from Tokyo designed the helmet to mark his 100th Verizon IndyCar Series career start in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. His first start came at Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2010 and he hasn't missed one since.

The race helmet and a companion helmet Sato used for practice and qualifying this weekend in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda will be auctioned to benefit his charity, With you Japan, which raises funds to assist children in Japan who are still recovering from the devastating earthquakes and tsunami in 2011. Visit http://www.takumasato.com in the coming weeks for details.

Twenty-seven members of Sato's fan club made the trip from Japan to Mid-Ohio to commemorate the century start for their favorite driver. The fans enjoyed dinner with Sato on Aug. 1 that included some of his favorite dishes: flank steak, "Sato" pork chops and Key lime pie. Many of the fans were wearing their own commemorative 100th race hats.

Sato's most ardent and longtime fan - his mother, Akiko - also took in the race weekend.

"When I go to the races, I go not only as a mother but as one of Taku's fans," she said through an interpreter. "I'm happy he continues to pursue his dreams. He had a very strong wish for racing and worked very hard to get where he is today."

Said Sato: "I just appreciate many things, especially the people who helped me to get where I am today. It is wonderful to be able to keep doing what you want, so the 100th race will be a great memory, but it's just a milestone so I will keep on going."

Sato's race ended after 60 laps in 24th place, the result of early contact with another car and later going off course.

Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Race Results

LEXINGTON, Ohio - Results Sunday of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (13) Graham Rahal, Honda, 90, Running
2. (14) Justin Wilson, Honda, 90, Running
3. (15) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 90, Running
4. (1) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 90, Running
5. (8) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 90, Running
6. (24) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 90, Running
7. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 90, Running
8. (11) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 90, Running
9. (23) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 90, Running
10. (12) Marco Andretti, Honda, 90, Running
11. (10) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 90, Running
12. (21) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 90, Running
13. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 90, Running
14. (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 90, Running
15. (4) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 90, Running
16. (17) James Jakes, Honda, 90, Running
17. (3) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 90, Running
18. (20) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 90, Running
19. (18) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 90, Running
20. (22) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Honda, 90, Running
21. (9) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 89, Off course
22. (19) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 89, Running
23. (6) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 87, Running
24. (16) Takuma Sato, Honda, 60, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 105.720
Time of Race: 01:55:20.0864
Margin of victory: 3.4049 seconds
Cautions: 4 for 16 laps
Lead changes: 7 among 7 drivers
Lap Leaders:
Dixon 1 - 22
Vautier 23 - 32
Wilson 33 - 38
Montoya 39 - 40
Newgarden 41 - 42
Castroneves 43 - 48
Montoya 49 - 67
Rahal 68 - 90
Verizon IndyCar Series Point Standings: Montoya 465, Rahal 456, Dixon 431, Castroneves 407, Power 406, Bourdais 379, Andretti 378, Newgarden 370, Kanaan 354, Pagenaud 329.
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