Rahal falls short of two in a row at Mid-Ohio, but earns fifth top-5 of 2016

(Photo courtesy IndyCar/Chris Jones)
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It wasn’t the repeat win he was looking for, but Graham Rahal still had a strong showing and finish in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The Ohio native started sixth and finished fourth in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Steak ‘n Shake Honda, his fifth top-five finish of the season.

It’s a good rebound from his last two races, finishing a season-worst (tied) 16th at Iowa and 13th at Toronto.

And in doing so at his home track, the Ohio native also climbed from 11th to ninth in the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings.

Sunday’s race was one where Rahal found himself kind of in a vortex of sorts at the start.

“It’s a case of starting up front,” Rahal told NBCSN in a post-race interview. “That’s the truth. When you start up front, you can’t really risk things, and when you start 13th, you’ve got nothing to lose.

“The only way you’re going to get to the front is to take a risk. It paid, you saw (Carlos) Munoz, (Sebastien) Bourdais, (Takuma) Sato, those guys were all on the same strategy. We couldn’t do that. At the time, we were running sixth, it just wasn’t going to pay off for us.”’

The first pit stop kind of set the tone for Rahal, but he and his team were able to battle back and wound up just one spot off what would have been his third podium finish this season.

“We had our backs up against the wall a little bit after that first yellow and that really hurt us a lot,” Rahal said. “It was hard to pass, got caught up a bit, and I don’t know why but I was really, really slow on the straights. We have to see what was going on there.”

But there’s no denying the good news of the good finish.

“I’m pretty pleased with the car today and the team continues to impress,” Rahal said. “It’s nice to get another top-five.

“Let’s focus on the fact we finished fourth and had a great day. It’s nice to be back in Ohio with the Buckeye stuff, it worked out for me and I think that moved us up in the points a lot.

“It’ll be a busy next couple weeks, a lot of testing, but we’re looking forward to Pocono.”

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