Believe it or not, Graham Rahal finished Saturday’s night’s Iowa Corn 300 in fourth.
It’s unbelievable due to the obstacles the RLL Racing driver had to overcome to earn his best-career finish at the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway.
It’s believable because he’s having the best season of his career.
“We had a heckuva night,” Rahal told NBCSN. “Flat tire. Then the car decided to not shift. From Lap 60 on we were stuck in sixth gear.”
After starting 17th, Rahal’s first trial came just shy of Lap 60 when his No. 15 Steak N’ Shake Chevrolet had to pit for a tire going down. The damaged tire was likely a result of being in the vicinity of Charlie Kimball and Stefano Coletti on Lap 24 when the two clipped each other on the backstretch.
After going two laps down, offsetting pit strategy and a caution quickly got him on the lead lap. But as he stated, it was sixth gear or bust the rest of the way and he had to recover from going down a lap again after dealing with his shifting issues on pit road.
“We got lucky with yellow at end. But it’s a shame,” Rahal said. “We had a car that was capable of winning. I thought we’d be right there. She was jamming in sixth. I tried to power cycle the car but couldn’t get it to do anything.”
Another set of green flag pit stops and a wreck by Takuma Sato allowed Rahal to position himself for yet another hard charge to the front.
But unlike in six other races this year, finishing fourth didn’t make Rahal the top Honda driver Saturday night.
That honor went to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who gave Andretti Autosport an unbelievable sixth-straight win at Iowa.