By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – There may be no driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series riding a bigger wave of momentum than Graham Rahal.
The 28-year-old Ohio native comes into this weekend’s round at Road America with two wins and a fourth in the past three races. Taking it one step further, his only two stops at the 4.014-mile, 14-turn permanent road course has brought a pair of third-place finishes.
The history speaking for itself, Rahal is aiming to keep his perfect podium record intact.
“Hopefully we can get through,” said Rahal, driver of the No. 15 GEHL/D-A Lubricant Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
“Actually this morning when I came in, saw my engineers, I reminded them that I had 100% podium rate in my career here. So the pressure was on them to, you know, make it happen. Really kind of jokingly, but I did the same in Detroit. I told them I didn’t want to wait too long before I got a win again. So maybe a little pressure for them is a good thing.
“I’ve always loved coming here. Come here all my life. My grandfather raced here back in the day. It was always my dad’s favorite track. It certainly is mine. You know, it suits these cars. It suits the style of what we do so well that it’s always great to be here.
“Obviously the fan support looks great. So it’s exciting to be back. You know, I mean, first session wasn’t great for us. I think we were 11th. I think we struggled to see a little bit of a balance there. But here, because of the length of the track and time and stuff, the session goes by so quick.
“We really didn’t get that many changes in, which is a little disappointing. But we’ll go back at it here in a little bit and see if we can improve.”
Honda managed just two wins all of last season, but has found five victories in nine races already this year, which gives Rahal an optimistic outlook this weekend.
“You know how this game goes,” said Rahal, who ended the day ninth in Friday’s combined practiced sessions at 139.276 mph (1 minute, 43.7540 seconds).
“The aero kit is the same. We’re pulling a parachute compared to those guys. Honda has done a hell of a job on the engine. I love their mentality. Obviously there’s been some issues here in recent times. They flat out said, We’re here to race to win. I love that about them. We’re going to go out there, push as hard as we can. The engine’s strong.
“Just try to overcome it. I haven’t looked at fuel mileage or anything else, but we should be in a pretty good place. I haven’t looked at trap speeds or any of that stuff. I anticipate that the others are probably a little bit stronger than us in top speed, but our engine is right there.
“Like I said, I’m proud of them for the mentality that they’ve kind of adopted. Typically I’d say Honda is a fairly conservative company in many ways. To see them in complete attack mode here on the racing side is awesome.
“You know, hopefully we can get another win for them this weekend.”