April 6 in Motorsports History: Graham Rahal, 19, wins at St. Pete

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On April 6, 2008, Graham Rahal made IndyCar history.

Graham Rahal celebrates after winning the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Photo: Jim Haines/IndyCar

After overcoming a spin early in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Rahal passed Ryan Hunter-Reay (who was driving for Rahal’s father, Bobby) to take the lead after a Lap 64 restart and led the final 19 laps through the checkered flag for his first IndyCar victory.

At 19 years, 3 months and 2 days, Rahal became the youngest winner in IndyCar history at the time, breaking a record previously established by Marco Andretti at Sonoma in 2006.

Rahal held on to this title for 11 years, until Colton Herta became the youngest winner in series history by winning IndyCar’s inaugural race at Circuit of The Americas in 2019 at 18 years, 11 months and 25 days of age.

Rahal’s victory is also notable as it was the first victory for Newman/Haas Racing post-reunification and came in his first start in the reunified IndyCar Series.

After competing as a rookie in Champ Car’s final season in 2007, Rahal missed the 2008 IndyCar opener March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway after crashing his car in a test (the team lacked parts to fix it).

“It can’t get any sweeter than this,” Rahal told ESPN after the win. “Especially after last week, not racing. Certainly, this makes it a whole lot sweeter.”

Also on this date:

1885: Jules Goux, the winner of the 1913 Indianapolis 500, was born in Valentigney, France. Driving a Peugeot, Goux reportedly drank four bottles of champagne while driving in the race, though that claim is believed to have been exaggerated. Goux died in 1965.

1986: Kevin Cogan won the CART season opener at Phoenix International Raceway. The veteran, who finished second to Bobby Rahal in the Indy 500 a month later, lapped the field in what wound up being his lone victory in the series.

2013: Max Angelelli and his first-year co-driver, Jordan Taylor, had a straightforward win for Wayne Taylor Racing in Grand Am’s Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park. Angelelli took over for Taylor just after halfway, assumed the lead with 43 minutes to go and went on to take the checkered flag by over four seconds over the No. 99 GAINSCO duo of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).