Graham Rahal was a late addition to the Indy 500 starting lineup, yet many still believe he actually has a decent chance to win.
On Sunday afternoon, Graham Rahal was bumped out of the 107th running of the Indy 500 by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Jack Harvey in the closing seconds of the Bump Day/Last Chance qualifying session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
But on Monday afternoon, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports’ Stefan Wilson suffered a fractured vertebra in a practice crash involving Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Katherine Legge.
Then on Tuesday morning, Rahal, despite being Honda’s longest tenured driver, was called upon to replace him behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevrolet. All parties involved made it work, despite having numerous obstacles to overcome.
Rahal is set to start Sunday’s 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Speedway, Indiana oval in 33rd (last) place, as he will not retain the 25th place starting spot that Wilson had earned in qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
No driver has ever won the race from lower than 28th place on the grid, with Ray Harroun pulling it off in 1911 and Louis Meyer doing it again in 1936. No driver has won it from the back half of the grid since Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rahal’s new teammate, won it from 19th in 2014.
But nobody is counting out Graham Rahal, who has twice finished in third place in his first 15 Indy 500 starts.
Rahal has made up as many of 26 spots in the Indy 500 before, driving from 29th place to third in 2011. He made up 20 positions from 30th in 2018.
At DraftKings Sportsbook, Rahal is listed at +4000 odds to win the race, which is right around where he was before qualifying weekend. While that by no means makes him a favorite, only 16 drivers are listed with shorter odds.
That’s a far cry from not even being in the race.
Helio Castroneves won the race as a +2800 underdog in 2021, so there is clearly a sense of optimism that Rahal can be competitive in a stronger car.
Given how non-competitive the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing cars have been, there is also a belief that Rahal getting behind the wheel of a stronger car will instill a sense that maybe he isn’t just here to ride around as an also-ran this month. And confidence can be key when it comes to being a factor at Indy.
Polesitter Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing remains the favorite, now at +600 as opposed to +650.
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The 107th running of the Indy 500 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Indianapolis Motor Speedway starting at 11:00 a.m. ET this Sunday, May 28. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!