By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Graham Rahal is the hometown hero looking for another win at his home track.
Born in Columbus, he earned a victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Verizon IndyCar Series competition in 2015, beating Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud in that year’s Honda Indy 200.
Returning to his home track always brings back the good feeling of having a home field advantage and seeing everybody as Rahal spoke to the media before the second IndyCar practice on Friday afternoon.
“It’s great to be here at Mid-Ohio,” Rahal said. “It’s nice to be back home, just see all the hometown fans, feel the support. I’m excited for practice this afternoon and obviously the weekend.”
“We’ve had good runs here the last few years. So the way I look at is we have to try to find a way to do that once again here this weekend and put it all together,” Rahal added.
For Rahal, Mid-Ohio is the second biggest race on the calendar for him and winning that race in 2015 was a crowning achievement.
“I said it at the time, and I still feel that, had I won and accomplished a lot in my career but never won here, I think it would have been something that I would have regretted greatly or been disappointed in,” said Rahal.
“So to get that off my back was nice.”
“It was great to win here, [a] special moment for me. It’s hard to put into words. I think about it a lot. What I think about the most, you know, nowadays is obviously standing next to me on the podium was [Wilson] who I was thinking about just the other day, that moment, that time with him. So it was just a great experience for me,” said Rahal.
Rahal has been gaining a lot of momentum in the last few races. He has seven top 10 finishes in the last eight races, the only exception being the Indianapolis 500. The Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing driver is currently tied with Will Power for fifth in points
“Hopefully we can keep that going, get Steak ‘n Shake another win here in central Ohio really, Ohio in general, build upon the momentum that we really picked up the last handful of races.”
Rahal was second in the opening Friday practice session, only .0343 seconds slower than Simon Pagenaud’s fastest lap. In the second Friday session, Rahal was eighth fastest with a half second deficit to session fastest Ryan Hunter-Reay
Rahal gained a little more than a tenth of a second between the two sessions while Hunter-Reay gained almost an entire second of time.
Saturday’s IndyCar practice begins at 9:55 ET.