Rahal wins exciting, tense MAVTV 500 under yellow (VIDEO)

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Graham Rahal has won what was an at times thrilling, at times tense and nerve-wracking MAVTV 500 under yellow, following a severe looking accident between Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay with two laps to go.

Rahal was just ahead of Tony Kanaan when the caution flew. It breaks a seven-year winless drought for the driver of the No. 15 Mi-Jack/Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, dating to the 2008 race at St. Petersburg, and a seven-year drought for the RLL team since Hunter-Reay’s win at Watkins Glen later that year.

WATCH: Full replay of Saturday’s race

Arguably the most controversial moment of the race occurred when following a pit stop, Rahal was released with a portion of the fuel buckeye still attached, but was subject to a post-race penalty rather than one in-race.

Rahal’s comments first in victory lane: “Our weakness has been these ovals. The next 3 races are going to define our year. I knew we were good in race trim. I can’t thank Mike and Dave and my dad for all believing in me. Steak ‘n Shake is the good luck charm. D-A Lubricants. You don’t know how good this feels. So long coming.

“When we went back to 16th I was a little worried. I knew my car was good. It wasn’t quick up front. I wasn’t as good as the Chevys.”

Meanwhile here was Derrick Walker, the president of competition of operations, commenting to NBCSN: “The stewards looked at that and they considered it was a post race penalty. It certainly looked pretty scary there. There will be a penalty I can assure. It just didn’t affect the competition on track.”

The Briscoe/RHR accident with two to go was the second severe accident inside of 10 laps, with the other involving Will Power and Takuma Sato.

Controversy about Rahal’s race and the scary accidents ending aside, Saturday’s race could easily be considered one of the best IndyCar races in recent memory, if not all-time.

The race set a record number of lead changes, with 80, eclipsing the previous mark of 73 set in the CART season finale held November 4, 2001.

There were 14 of the 23 drivers who started who led the race at one stage or another.

Until the last 50 to 75 laps, it had been a fairly clean race. The first half of the race ran entirely caution-free, and there wasn’t the first caution until Lap 136 when Helio Castroneves got squeezed in-between Power and Briscoe on the backstraight, which sent him into a spin.

And then it all boiled down to a series of late-race restarts, where it became a question of who would edge ahead and who could survive the potential and likely carnage.

Rahal won, and the drought snapped a 124-race winless streak as mentioned above.

With Marco Andretti in third, it marked the first time both drivers have been on the same podium in their IndyCar careers.

Juan Pablo Montoya extended his points lead with fourth and rising star Sage Karam completed the top five.

It was a fascinating day and one we’ll likely be talking about for a while, for various reasons.

Results are below.

FONTANA, Calif. – Results Saturday of the MAVTV 500 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1.  (19) Graham Rahal, Honda, 250, Running
2.  (6) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 250, Running
3.  (3) Marco Andretti, Honda, 250, Running
4.  (5) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 250, Running
5.  (10) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 250, Running
6.  (7) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 250, Running
7.  (23) James Jakes, Honda, 250, Running
8.  (13) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 250, Running
9.  (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 250, Running
10.  (17) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 250, Running
11.  (11) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 250, Running
12.  (21) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 250, Running
13.  (22) Pippa Mann, Honda, 250, Running
14.  (15) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 250, Running
15.  (14) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 249, Contact
16.  (16) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 249, Contact
17.  (20) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 246, Running
18.  (9) Takuma Sato, Honda, 241, Contact
19.  (8) Will Power, Chevrolet, 241, Contact
20.  (18) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 237, Running
21.  (12) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 161, Contact
22.  (4) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 157, Contact
23.  (2) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 136, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed:  168.846
Time of Race: 02:57:40.6179
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 6 for 46 laps
Lead changes: 80 among 14 drivers
Lap Leaders:
Castroneves 1 – 2
Montoya 3
Castroneves 4 – 7
Andretti 8 – 14
Kanaan 15
Andretti 16 – 21
Kanaan 22 – 23
Karam 24
Kanaan 25
Karam 26 – 29
Kanaan 30 – 33
Andretti 34 – 35
Power 36
Sato 37 – 38
Kanaan 39 -40
Andretti 41 -43
Montoya 44 – 46
Sato 47 – 51
Dixon 52 – 54
Sato 55 – 69
Kanaan 70
Sato 71 – 72
Dixon 73
Power 74 – 76
Castroneves 77 – 79
Power 80
Castroneves 81 – 83
Power 84 – 85
Castroneves 86 -94
Power 95
Castroneves 96
Power 97 – 98
Kanaan 99
Power 100 – 101
Kanaan 102 – 105
Sato 106
Power 107
Sato 108 – 109
Carpenter 110 – 111
Dixon 111 -112
Power 113
Castroneves 114 – 116
Briscoe 117
Castroneves 118 – 135
Rahal 136 – 138
Power 139 – 153
Pagenaud 154 – 156
Munoz 157 – 169
Power 170 – 172
Munoz 173
Sato 174
Power 175
Sato 176 – 178
Kanaan 179 – 182
Rahal 183
Kanaan 184 – 185
Andretti 186 – 187
Montoya 188
Power 189 – 1994
Andretti 195 – 200
Power 201
Dixon 202
Hunter-Reay 203 – 205
Briscoe 206
Kanaan 207
Briscoe 208
Power 209 – 212
Andretti 213
Power 214
Andretti 215
Power 216 – 217
Andretti 218
Power 219 – 220
Andretti 221 – 222
Power 223 – 227
Rahal 228
Power 229 – 235
Briscoe 236
Power 237
Briscoe 238 – 240
Rahal 241 – 250

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Montoya 407, Power 361, Dixon 358, Rahal 334, Castroneves 330, Andretti 308, Bourdais 290, Kanaan 285, Newgarden 277, Pagenaud 256.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III