(Photo courtesy IndyCar/Chris Jones)

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

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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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Scott Dixon fastest on the second day of Indianapolis 500 practice

Indy 500 practice Dixon
James Black/IndyCar
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Scott Dixon was fastest on the second day of Indy 500 practice Thursday, turning a lap at 226.102 mph in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Takuma Sato was second, followed by Marco Andretti, Conor Daly and rookie Alex Palou.

The rest of the top 10 were: Colton Herta, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Fernando Alonso and James Davison.

THURSDAY PRACTICE: Click here for Day 2 speeds at Indianapolis

COMBINED SPEEDS: Click here for the overall speeds from the first two days

The session had one incident as Alonso crashed with just less than an hour left in the session. The Arrow McLaren SP driver was optimistic that the car could be repaired without a backup.

Among the other notables on the speed chart Thursday: Ryan Hunter-Reay (11th); Tony Kanaan (14th); Helio Castroneves (16th); Josef Newgarden (18th); Graham Rahal (19th); Will Power (23rd); Alexander Rossi (26th) and defending race winner Simon Pagenaud (27th).

Felix Rosenqvist (24th) and rookie Dalton Kellett turned the most laps (141) around the 2.5-mile oval.

Teams mostly focused on race setup Thursday as they will receive 80 extra horsepower in the “Fast Friday” practice that will feature speeds above 230 mph for qualifying Saturday and Sunday.

The Indy 500 will take place Aug. 23; coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBC with the green flag at 2:30 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBCDetails for the Aug. 23 race

DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy