By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Saturday night’s running of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway got off to an inauspicious start when the first incident of the night occurred between Ed Jones and Graham Rahal just two laps into the race.
Heading into Turn 1, with Jones running the low line and Rahal in the next groove up, Jones’ No. 18 Honda washed up the track into Rahal, causing the two to spin into the outside wall and bringing their nights to an early end.
Jones’ Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan team immediately took his car back to the garage, while Rahal’s team attempted to repair the car and get it back in the race, but the damage was too much and he too would retire just two laps later.
Of course, each driver laid the fault of the crash on the other, with Jones pointing the finger at Rahal and Rahal pointing it right back at Jones.
“It’s the third lap of the race. You know, you’re pushing, but there’s no need to take stupid, unnecessary risks,” Jones said. “I was always ahead of him down into the corner and he just turned down on me. I’m not surprised from him, but it’s just unnecessary. I feel super bad for the SealMaster car. Bommarito, they put on a great event and for our car to be out so early on is a massive shame. Not a lot we could do there, just got to push forward to the next race.”
“He blocked me bad, as everybody could see and I broke early into [Turn] 1 to give him a lot of space,” Rahal rebutted. “Ran out of talent. I don’t know what else to say. Unfortunately, it really hurts. We had a pretty good car.
“You could see he was a full car width off the apex. Maybe he should have hit the brakes earlier if he thought it was too aggressive and use his head, but he didn’t. I’m disappointed because the Hy-Vee car, honestly, was pretty good on used tires and on long runs and I thought we were going to be able to march forward.”
“It’s inexcusable on his behalf that early to block that hard…Guys just aren’t using their heads right now and I don’t know what else to say.”
Rahal added that the incident would likely cost him a chance at being able to finish in the top-five in points with just three races at Portland, Laguna Seca, and Long Beach remaining on the 2021 schedule.
“Top-five [in points] is gone for us,” Rahal said. “This will put me 70 points behind, something like that, out of the top-five. It’s kind of been the story of our year. We always aim for a top-five average. Without Indy, we were at a 6.7 average, so you have Indy and here now, it’s pretty bad. Unfortunately, that’s it for us.”