Andretti ends third for first Rahal/Andretti podium in nearly 20 years (VIDEO)

4 Comments

The date was September 1, 1996 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Graham Rahal was 7 years old, and Marco Andretti was 9.

That was the last time the Rahal and Andretti names stood on the same IndyCar podium. Until today.

Back in the first year of the CART/IRL split, at the beginning of the start of the inexorable 20-year-old decline of the sport on the whole, it was Michael Andretti leading home Bobby Rahal in the penultimate round of the PPG IndyCar World Series season.

Today, Graham Rahal has won the MAVTV 500, Round 11 of 16 in the Verizon IndyCar Series season, but Marco Andretti joined him on the podium with third place.

Tony Kanaan, who raced against both their dads in his rookie CART season of 1998 (Bobby Rahal’s final season as a driver), sandwiched them in second.

Andretti’s No. 27 Snapple Honda was well set-up from the start of the weekend, rolling off the truck quickly as he qualified third. In the race, he led 10 times for 31 laps and ultimately ended in the same position.

Andretti’s biggest achilles’ heel during the race, it seemed, was that he was stuck on the wrong line when it came time to go for the win.

“It’s definitely crazy, pack racing’s always like that,” Andretti said post-race. “You’ve got guys that just don’t want to back off, guys going forward, guys going backward, inside, outside. I find it quite fun but it is extremely dangerous, but that’s what we sign up for. We put on a heck of a show for the fans, that’s for sure.

“We were pretty good but sort of shot ourselves in the foot there at the end. I shouldn’t have gone low, I should’ve known Graham (Rahal) was going to do that. I had a full head of steam. If I would’ve went high, I think we could’ve won the race.”

Andretti moved up to sixth in the points after this result.

Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
Leave a comment

Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

‘THEY’VE STUCK BEHIND ME’: Kyle Larson comments on future, Outlaws plans

“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.