INDIANAPOLIS – Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing continued their hot streak, with Rahal taking the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda to its third straight top-five finish.
After runner-up finishes in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Rahal ended fifth in the 99th Indianapolis 500, following a drive up through the field from 17th on the grid.
Rahal quietly got into the top 10 by Lap 68, then methodically moved forward from there.
Despite his, the team’s, and Honda’s best efforts, Rahal said post-race that the Chevrolets had a notable edge.
“I’m really, really proud of these guys, all the effort they continue to put in,” Rahal said. “I mean, once again today, the top Honda. The Chevy was just in a league of its own unfortunately on horsepower. I was happy we were as close to Chuck and Dixon at the end as we were. I thought there was no hope. With 15 to go, to be tenth or ninth, charge up through those guys, pretty tricky.
“A lot of fun. I thought the racing was really good. Again, 500 miles. We were good at times, bad at times. Lucky we ended on a high note.
“More importantly than anything, I said to my boys coming into today, no matter what, two things I wanted, that was to be the top Honda, and to keep up with the top three in points, top four. Unfortunately three of those guys finished ahead of us, but still had a very good points today.”
To that point, Rahal ranks fifth in the standings heading into Detroit next weekend. That marked the site of his only podium finish last year, a runner-up finish in race one.
Rahal said he wanted to record a result for team co-owner David Letterman, who was on site this weekend in his first weekend in retirement following the conclusion of “The Late Show” earlier this week.
“Yeah, I mean, we wanted to win for Dave. I think we all knew that we were going to have an uphill battle today. At the end of the day we finished a lot closer than I expected.
“I think Dave will be very happy. It’s good talking to him. He assured me we’ll see him around the racetrack more. I’m excited to have him at this stage of his life. Talking to his wife, she’s feeling the same.
“It’s about time he can enjoy himself a little bit, and hopefully that includes IndyCar racing.”
Rahal also praised the racing itself on the day.
“One point needs to be made, which is what Will (Power) said. I think the racing today was very hard, but very clean. The people I was racing with, we had some good battles, but the guys did an excellent job. A lot of outside passes which I’ve rarely ever seen here. A lot of inside. Very good battles but very clean.”
The result is Rahal’s best in the Indianapolis 500 since ending a career-best third in 2011.