Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing have struggled as the lone single-car team in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017. With a best finish of tenth, Rahal languished back in 17th in the championship standings.
Things didn’t look much better heading into race day at the INDYCAR Grand Prix, as Rahal qualified a lowly 20th. However, race day finally yielded some positives for Rahal and crew, as pace, strategy, and strong overtaking saw Rahal climb all the way up to sixth at race’s end. It is Rahal’s best finish of the 2017 season.
“We were on attack mode in the first stint. We had to pump out a whole bunch of qualifying laps and close the gaps,” Rahal said of the effort. “My United Rentals boys did a great job in the pits because we got by a lot of guys there and we were able to pass a lot of guys. Overall I’m pleased with the day that we had.”
Further, the result brings in a sizeable donation of $8,500 for SoldierStrong and Turns for Troops, which was featured on Rahal’s No. 15 Honda this weekend, and was something he emphasized the importance of after the race. “We completed all 85 laps and raised $100 a lap for SoldierStrong and Turns for Troops which means a lot to me. It’s just a good way to start the month.”
The sixth-place vaults Rahal to 13th in the championship as attention shifts to the upcoming 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.