Graham Rahal spins Tony Kanaan on final restart, costs both a likely podium finish at Houston

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Tony Kanaan showed that patience is one of his biggest strong suits in Saturday’s Race 1 of the Shell and Pennzoil IndyCar Grand Prix of Houston.

Kanaan was dumped on the final restart of the race by Graham Rahal, ending potential podium finishes for both drivers. Kanaan was running third at the time and Rahal fourth.

“I’ve gotta be professional, I have a team to defend and a lot of good sponsors, so I can’t do what I really want to do,” Kanaan said, showing incredible restraint, even though he had a look on his face that showed just the opposite.

“What a shame,” Kanaan said to NBCSN. “It was a great run. We fought all the way, all day long, and to be taken out like that, I think it’s stupid.

“But (Rahal) was having a good day, too, and ruined his day. I guess I wanted to believe the best, that he didn’t do it on purpose, he came over to apologize, but that still doesn’t take the frustration out of me.”

Kanaan’s car was undriveable after the contact, but Rahal was able to continue. He went over to Kanaan afterward to apologize.

“Obviously, I said I’m sorry,” Rahal said. “With the stack up on the restart, I was trying to keep the tires just as dry as I could. I was just to the left (of Kanaan) and when it stacked up, I just didn’t see him at all and got into the back of him.

“Obviously, this has happened about a hundred times this year, but it doesn’t make it right.”

Kanaan wound up recording a 13th-place finish, while Rahal was penalized 30 seconds for avoidable late-race contact. While he crossed the finish line third, the penalty pushed his eventual finish to 11th.

“I think if it had ended under green, we would have won this race for sure, and I feel confident saying that because I was moving by those guys in a hurry,” Rahal said. “But, shoulda, coulda, woulda. In the end, I made a mistake. That’s the way it goes.”

Added Kanaan, “It’s just a shame. Am I mad at him? Yes. Can I turn back time? No. So we have to turn the page and go on to tomorrow.”

Rahal also tried to look ahead.

“This car, I said last night that it could win today,” Rahal said. “We didn’t qualify as well as we thought we could of, but everybody saw there was nobody quicker than us on that racetrack.

“What can we do? We have to go back out there tomorrow, try to qualify a little better and run upfront.”

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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).