By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter & NASCAR Contributor
Graham Rahal became victim of fuel mileage as he ran out of gas on the last lap of Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and finished 15th after running as high as ninth.
Rahal started deep in the field in 17th after a tough two days of practice. From the green flag, he picked off two cars on the opening lap and passed another car soon after on lap three to put himself in 14th place. His Rahal Letterman Lanigan with Theodore Racing team elected to pit early on lap 20 and when all the drivers cycled through pit stops, he found himself in 10th place.
After running steadily around 10th over the course of the next stint, he was forced to pit a lap earlier than planned on lap 48. The team was banking on a yellow flag to fly in order for Rahal to pick up some track position, but the yellow flag never flew and he was forced to conserve fuel to make it to the flag.
With 10 laps to go, he was forced to slow down even further to make the necessary fuel numbers and began to lose positions. It then went from bad to worse as he ran out of gas on the last lap and coasted across the line in 15th place and came to a stop in turn 1.
“It was tough because I was giving them the number that they were asking me the whole race,” said Rahal. “To hear all of a sudden that I would have to give them .4 – that is an impossible number. I can barely get that under yellow flag conditions.
I really didn’t know what to do. I had to cruise around, I lost a ton of time.”
Image: Chris Owens/INDYCAR