By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
Motorsports Tribune reviews the season of the top 10 drivers from the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. Our list continues with the sixth-place championship finisher, Graham Rahal.
Graham Rahal, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
- 2017: 6th in the championship
- Wins: 2, Top 5: 6, Top 10: 12, Poles: 1, Laps Led: 110
- Best Finish: 1st – Two times (Detroit Race 1, Detroit Race 2)
2017 was a year of two halves for Graham Rahal and the dividing line was June 3rd and 4th.
The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series made its annual stop with the Chevrolet Dual of Detroit at Belle Isle and Rahal wasn’t having as good of a start to the season as he would have liked. With two top 10 finishes at Long Beach (10th) and at the INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis (sixth) and a flat tire during the Indianapolis 500, Rahal was sitting 15th in points.
His position wasn’t helped with a first lap incident at Phoenix (21st).
Then, lightning struck twice as the Ohio native won both races, the first IndyCar driver to sweep a doubleheader weekend since Scott Dixon at Toronto in 2013.
That weekend vaulted Rahal to sixth in points, eight behind eventual season champion Josef Newgarden and the good results didn’t stop there.
Even though the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda never visited Victory Lane for the rest of the year, Rahal scored eight top 10 finishes out of the final nine races of the year with four of them being top five finishes. His only anomaly was a 12th at Gateway.
Looking back, the results achieved are remarkable considering that RLLR was missing one crucial thing: a teammate in a second full time car. Oriol Servia ran at Indianapolis and Detroit, while Zachary Claman De Melo ran at Sonoma. However, 2018 will have Takuma Sato rejoin the team in a full time capacity.
With a return to the single aero kit in 2018, a new challenge for Rahal and the rest of the Verizon IndyCar Series field awaits. The opportunity for the long awaited teammate to pair with Rahal surging into the prime of his career could pay dividends next season.