Graham Rahal wasn’t a happy person at the conclusion of the Portland Grand Prix, and it’s hard to fault his views on a day where the possibility of a long-awaited win evaporated for reasons that had nothing to do with speed or competitiveness.
Fast enough to lead, his chances of a breakthrough victory on Sunday slipped away as an untimely caution and what proved to be an unfavorable pit strategy left the veteran to rue what could have been after crossing the finish line in 10th. The driver of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda was out front for 36 laps, more than any of his rivals, but it was all the external influences on the race that ruined his day.
“You can probably imagine that I’m pretty upset; if nothing else, just disappointed,” Rahal said. “Our guys did an excellent job. We played the strategy right, but unfortunately all the guys who caused the crash at the start are all the guys who won. It’s just a shame, I don’t know what else to say. I’m obviously disappointed, but the high points are that they definitely knew we were here. Our boys did an excellent job in the pits once again.”
The big turnaround for Rahal started with an excellent performance in qualifying, where he secured fifth in a knockout session that hasn’t always been productive for the 32-year-old. If the trend can continue this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, there’s every reason to believe a repeat of Portland – but with a better outcome – is possible.
“The car was very strong, out front leading,” he said. “I don’t know how many laps we led, but it was a lot of fun to be out there and get the Total machine out front. We put our head down and finished all the laps, and got another top 10. It should have been a win; I can’t help but say it. We played it perfect. Just sometimes in racing, the yellows don’t go your way. Chin up, and on to Monterey we go.”