Rahal: “I felt confident today because of our guys”

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – About 28 hours prior to the green flag of Saturday night’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix, Graham Rahal and the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda were lost at sea after a severe moment in Turn 1 on his first hot qualifying lap cost him any hope of a good speed.

“All day we’ve been really loose. I’ve been sideways more times today than I’ve been on an oval in years. Obviously we got a lot of work to do,” a perplexed Rahal said Friday afternoon, back in his land speed cruiser a day after flying with the Air Force Thunderbirds at nearby Luke Air Force Base, and pulling 9.4 G’s.

Then Friday night Rahal and crew found the setup, got the Mi-Jack/United Rentals-backed entry dialed in and found himself with a much better car than it was in the heat of the day a few hours earlier.

Still, after starting 19th with an average speed of 179 mph and change, and with passing at a premium and the Hondas at a noticeable disadvantage to the Chevrolets, seeing Rahal in fifth by the checkered flag was a minor surprise – albeit a welcome one.

Rahal hailed his crew for the efforts, because the key for him was staying on the lead lap early and then gaining big time on the pit stops.

Although Rahal started 19th, he’d done well to pass three cars in the opening two laps and get to 16th. His crew gained him a few spots on the first sequence and he was 13th.

Rahal got a bit lucky timing wise with the second sequence, as he hadn’t made his stop yet. But a Lap 120 yellow for Carlos Munoz and a number of others pitting ahead of him meant he was up to eighth. And again, his crew delivered – he gained two more spots to get to sixth.

Other than a moment late in the race when he passed Ed Carpenter, who’d lost momentum through Turns 3 and 4 when fighting Will Power, Rahal managed to avoid the drama and raced hard to get to a needed fifth place.

It snapped a brutal three-race run of results for him dating to Pocono last year, and Rahal was quick to praise his team in a post-race chat.

“The pit stops were amazing as always. I’ve said it from the start, I felt confident today because of those guys,” Rahal told NBC Sports post-race. “If I didn’t have this crew, and those stops, I wouldn’t have felt half as good about this race.”

The fascinating bit beyond the crew note was how much Rahal and the team recovered this weekend after the disaster in qualifying, which was a bit reminiscent of some of the team’s efforts last year (Iowa and Fontana were noteworthy efforts there).

Rahal was back to the usual one-car effort this weekend after teammate Spencer Pigot made his IndyCar debut at St. Petersburg, although Pigot was still on site for support this weekend.

Yet with the missed setup and with Rahal’s noted development aces Mike Talbott and Martin Pare absent this weekend, it took a recovery to get back to form.

“Honestly, this weekend highlighted the disadvantage of being a single-car team. I had no one else to have information and gain data,” Rahal admitted. “Honestly, I was on my own. Had we had another car, we would have recognized it from the start.

“But now here we are. We didn’t take a huge swing. Mike Talbott who is back home in Colorado and Martin Pare, who’s up in Toronto, they’re with us in spirit. All three put their heads together. But we needed this result.”

Rahal’s fifth place vaulted him from 16th after St. Petersburg up to seventh in the points, and 39 back of leader Simon Pagenaud.

It’s early days yet, but there’s no telling how important this result could be for Rahal the rest of the season. In that regard it’s almost a bit similar to NOLA last year, when Rahal and team provided the first glimpse at their big 2015 season ahead.

“We’d had three in a row of tough luck. This, we broke through a bit. These guys made this happen. We were at a big disadvantage. Fifth today is better than what we could have dreamed of.

“It’s all due to good pit stops.. When I was stuck in traffic, I was saving as much fuel as I possible could. And you saw how much I saved compared to the others, and it got us there.”

Vicki Golden and 805 Beer tell a unique story from an Inverted Perspective


Vicki Golden has earned a career worthy of a thousand stories and 805 Beer tells at least one of them, as “Inverted Perspective” premiered March 30 on the company’s website and YouTube channel.

Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”. 

At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.

Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California. 

Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.

“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”

805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”

Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life. 

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The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general. 

“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said.  “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”

Vicki Golden is not “fast for a girl”; she’s just fast. – 805 Beer

While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself. 

“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”

Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.

Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg. 

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Golden 805 Beer
Vicki Golden has ridden a variety of disciplines in SuperMotocross, which gives her a unique perspective. – 805 Beer

“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle. 

“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”

The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective. 

“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.

“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”