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Graham Rahal dominant en route to first Detroit win

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DETROIT – Graham Rahal has looked on rails all weekend at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix Presented by Lear and backed it up on Saturday with his fifth and perhaps most authoritative career victory in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The driver of the No. 15 SoldierStrong/TurnsForTroops.com Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing led 55 of the 70 laps from pole, and never looked in doubt of being headed on-track or in the pits. His previous career high for most laps led in a race came in Texas in 2012, where he led 27 laps.

It was the combination of pace and strategy – Rahal only stopped twice and ran longer on the first stint – that helped deliver Rahal the win by a whopping 6.1474 seconds, to become the seventh winner in as many races this year.

Even more impressively, Rahal capped off a banner day for Honda with the shadows of General Motors’ headquarters in the background at the Raceway on Belle Isle Park, Roger Penske and Chevrolet’s home race.

Earlier in the day at Detroit, Acura picked up the first win for the new NSX GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the GT Daytona class, with Andy Lally and Katherine Legge driving the No. 93 car.

And today, Honda swept the podium with Rahal clear of Scott Dixon, putting in an incredible drive while battling a bit of pain after his accident last week in the Indianapolis 500 to finish second, with James Hinchcliffe in third. All told, there were seven Hondas in the top 10 at the finish.

Dixon qualified sixth but rallied all day in the No. 9 Camping World Honda, only rarely dropping out of the top 10 and like Rahal, used a two-stop strategy versus a three-stopper.

Hinchcliffe spun on the opening lap of the race in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda but didn’t lose a lap, and was able to parlay that unfortunate moment into a strategy advantage the rest of the way. He was up from 22nd to fifth by Lap 20 and stayed close to the top five for the remainder of the day.

Hinchcliffe had to hold off a late charge from Josef Newgarden, who was anywhere from three to nine tenths of a second faster per lap in the final stint of the race, but didn’t get close enough to make a move in the final few laps.

Helio Castroneves faded to seventh on a three-stop strategy.

More to follow.

F1: Hamilton leads Mercedes front row lockout in France

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Lewis Hamilton needed to outduel teammate Valtteri Bottas in qualifying for Sunday’s French Grand Prix, after the Finn jumped ahead of the Briton on his final run – Bottas turned in a lap at 1:30.147 to barely get clear of Hamilton.

However, Hamilton ultimately got the last laugh and turned in a 1:30.029 on his final lap, bettering Bottas by just over one tenth of a second, to take the 75th pole of his career.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel qualified third, followed by the Red Bull Racing duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in fourth and fifth. Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen ended up sixth.

Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified seventh, and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc qualified a brilliant eighth as the Frenchman continued a strong rookie campaign in front of his home crowd.

The Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean completed the top 10, with Grosjean actually crashing out of Q3 after nosing his VF-18 into a barrier.

Results are below. Of note: the McLaren drivers of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne failed to advance out of Q1 and qualified 16th (Alonso), and 18th (Vandoorne), though Vandoorne will start 17th as Brendon Hartley will start at the back of the grid after Toro Rosso changed several components of the power unit.

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