Graham Rahal hoping to start turn-around at home

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Graham Rahal makes no bones about it – 2013 has not been one of his greatest years in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

“Unfortunately, as things came together for the team this year, we didn’t have speed in the car from the get go,” Rahal said on Wednesday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course ahead of this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 (Sun., 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN). “At a couple of different tracks this year, it clicked for us. We ran up front at Long Beach and at Iowa, we were really strong.

“When I can only list two races out of all the ones we’ve done, it’s been a frustrating year.”

The 24-year-old American, who drives for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, sits a disappointing 17th in the championship with a lone podium (Long Beach) and two Top-5 finishes (the Beach and Iowa) in the season’s first 13 events.

But the Ohio native has come to home ground this weekend at Mid-Ohio, and he’s very much wanting to finish 2013 strong – starting with a victory in front of his family, friends and fellow Buckeyes.

“I want to do well here,” he said. “A win here would mean a lot to us. Not only for me as a person, but for the whole team. It would mean a ton.”

Still, Rahal notes that the team has been “making some changes” in an effort to get a head-start on next season. Among those changes are the welcoming of a new engineer for him, Neil Fife, who’s joined RLL after being released from Dragon Racing.

“It helps us because if this is the way the team is going to stay in ’14, we get time to work together,” Rahal said. “I’ve known Neil for a long time, but we’ve never worked together. It’s a new thing.

“…It’s all about building momentum and the more time you spend and get more familiar with everybody, it’s only going to help you in the future.”

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.