Graham Rahal at Detroit: If at first you don’t succeed, try the next day — it’ll end up much better

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If there ever were a poster boy for the old expression “What a difference a day makes,” it would be IndyCar driver Graham Rahal.

Rahal crashed on lap 5 and finished last in the 23-car field in Saturday’s 2015 Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit No. 1 at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park.

A little over 24 hours later, thanks in part to rain, an abrupt rules change cutting the race from a distance event to a timed event, and enough wrecks and mayhem to fill a junkyard, Rahal earned his third podium finish of the 2015 season with a third-place showing in the Dual at Detroit No. 2.

“It helps a lot,” Rahal said of Sunday’s bounce back. “I mean, (Saturday) was brutal. That’s the nice thing about this doubleheader.

“We reversed our roles from last year. Last year had a good first day, bad second. At least this time, you know, I’m leaving here … on a good note.

“I’m happy with how it all went. I wish (Saturday) was a little better, but this definitely eases the pain. I think this is our third podium in the last four weekends, third in the last five races. Feels really good.”

The son of former Indianapolis 500 winner and CART champion Bobby Rahal, Graham is off to the best season start of his IndyCar career.

In 2015’s first eight races, the younger Rahal has two runner-up finishes, Sunday’s third-place showing, and four other finishes between 5th and 11th.

The 26-year-old’s average finish in 2015 is a career-high 8.1 thus far.

His Saturday finish has been the lone aberration thus far this season.

“Like I said, I’m just proud of my guys because they’re making my life a lot easier this year,” Rahal said. “They’re doing a great job in the pits, keep fighting hard. We’re up there with the big boys now. Got to make sure we’re good at everything.”

He’s also up to fourth in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings, trailing points leader Juan Pablo Montoya – who has been No. 1 since winning the season-opening race at St. Petersburg – by 69 points.

But Rahal is just six points behind third-ranked Scott Dixon, one point ahead of fifth-ranked Helio Castroneves and leads Sunday’s winner, Sebastien Bourdais, by 17 points.

“We’re just going to keep fighting,” said Rahal, whose best single season in IndyCar racing has been seventh in 2009. “We can hang with these guys. We just got to keep working hard and we’ll be there.”

But Rahal could have finished second or maybe even won the race had it not been for a costly blocking penalty that set him back from third to fourth – behind eventual winner Sebastien Bourdais, Juan Pablo Montoya and eventual runner-up Takuma Sato – while under caution on Lap 59.

“On the penalty side of things, obviously it’s extremely frustrating,” Rahal said. “I look at the incident (Saturday), all the avoidable contact that happened there. I got penalized for the same thing in St. Pete, and here nobody gets anything.

“It’s just very frustrating. I think we need to keep reviewing that, obviously work on it. But there’s just nothing you can do. When you’re in the car, you have to fight as hard as you can. I knew it would be hard here to get back by (Sato). But I’m pleased to be here on the podium.”

And even though he’s had an excellent first half of the season, there are still eight more races remaining, including Saturday night’s Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. There’s no way Rahal is taking anything for granted or letting up now.

“We’re only halfway done, man,” said Rahal, who only has one IndyCar win to date (St. Petersburg, 2008), but is hoping that changes in the remaining eight races, starting Saturday night. “Got a lot of work to do.”

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NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing

Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.