Rahal, Kimball out early in Detroit (VIDEO)


Two of the top-five finishers in the Indianapolis 500 – Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball – are out in the first 15 laps in the first race of this weekend’s Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans.

On a Lap 6 restart in race one, a four-car incident took Rahal out of the race, and also involved Tony Kanaan, James Jakes and Stefano Coletti.

The field, which is running on a rain-soaked track, was entering Turn 1 when Coletti, Jakes and Kanaan went three-wide. Coletti bounced off of Jakes’ left-rear tire and into Kanaan, sending his No. 10 Chevrolet sponsored by Big Machine Records and featuring Taylor Swift’s THE 1989 WORLD TOUR into the tire barrier.

Rahal then came onto the scene and having nowhere to go, ran into the back of Kanaan’s car, damaging his right-front wheel.

“I think a lot of people are just taking stupid chances early in the race,” Rahal told ABC. “(Josef) Newgarden dove underneath me and I was letting him go and unfortunately, that put me a car width off the inside and Kanaan and Jakes crashed.”

The result ends a three-race streak of top-five finishes for Rahal and his No. 15 Steak N’ Shake team.

“It’s impossible to see right now (because of the rain),” Rahal said. “You just got to be smart out there, be really, really cautious. I was just playing this out as a 70-lap race or two hours, and I don’t think lot of guys are right now.”

The other three cars involved remain in the race, Coletti runs in 11th and Kanaan and Jakes are listed in 22nd and 20th.

Shortly thereafter, Kimball smacked the wall exiting Turn 2, and his No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was done on the spot.

“We caught up and I just hit a puddle into 2 and the car just snapped,” Kimball told ABC’s Jon Beekhuis. “It’s a shame but we’ll come back tomorrow and have a good race.”

It ends a run of three consecutive top-five finishes for Rahal and two in a row for Kimball.

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”