Graham Rahal has arguably his best chance to win his first IndyCar race since 2017, and a win would put him in quite an interesting category.
If there is one thing Graham Rahal proved in Sunday afternoon’s IndyCar qualifying session at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, it’s that he is not going anywhere.
It might not be with his father’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team past the conclusion of the 2023 season, but it’s clear that he is far from “washed up” and ready to retire from competition like some may have implied over the last few months.
Rahal looked to be on course for his first pole position since 2017 and just the fourth of his career at his home race track before being pipped by Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta in the final few corners of the 13-turn, 2.258-mile (3.634-kilometer) natural terrain road course in Lexington, Ohio.
For a driver who has historically been much better in races than in qualifying, a first front row start in more than four years was the shot in the arm he and the team needed after a rough start to the 2023 season, one which has already seen Rahal fail to qualify for the Indy 500 on speed.
DraftKings Sportsbook, which is now offering an instant $150 to fans who sign up and bet $5, lists Rahal as the fourth favorite to win Sunday’s 80-lap race at +800, easily his shortest odds to win a race in several years.
With a win in Sunday’s race, Graham Rahal would be tied for the lead among active drivers in IndyCar wins without an Indy 500 victory.
He would remarkably become the fourth drive to sit atop this list in the last month and a half alone. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden held that distinction with 26 wins before winning the 107th running of the race back in late May, when it then slid to Herta (seven wins). Back-to-back wins for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou since then have tied him with Herta.
Rahal has six career wins to his name, and none in more than six years. When he achieved his sixth career win back in June 2017, well before Herta and Palou had ever entered the series, he still ranked behind drivers such as Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, both of whom have since won the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, in this particular category.
Rahal is a former winner at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, having won at the track back in 2015 en route to a career-high fourth place finish in the championship standings. The 2015 and 2017 season are his lone multi-win years, while his other two wins came in 2008 and 2016.
Given the resurgence of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and their relatively quick turnaround, the 34-year-old Ohio native cannot be counted out in Sunday’s race.
Make note of the fact that the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by the 2023 Accord Hybrid is set to be broadcast live on USA Network, not regular NBC. The ninth race of the 17-race 2023 season is just the second race on USA Network’s schedule his year. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss what should be an exciting event!