Graham Rahal heads into the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio sports car course, his home race where he won last season having finished the Honda Indy Toronto in 13th place. Steak N’Shake are the primary sponsor for the No.15 Honda this weekend.
Speaking ahead of his home race Rahal commented by saying:
We had to rally last year, We started 13th which wasn’t great. We should have qualified better than that as our pace was certainly better than that. We ended up getting up to the top three on pure pace then I was held up in traffic. I said over the radio that I wanted to pit. I like to think about strategy a lot as a driver which is the way my dad was. I knew that with the strategy we were running, we were in the window to pit, I knew I was getting held up so I made the call and told them I was coming in. It happened to go yellow right as we came in which was absolutely perfect. It worked out great for us. Mid-Ohio is a place that I grew up at and spent so much time running around. There was so much pride involved in that day. It’s hard for me to explain the feelings that I had to people. It was a great moment in my life and I just hope it carries over and we see a lot of support this year.
Rahal spoke about the significance of his win at home last season:
Mid-Ohio is home to me. I grew up at the track and spent so many days there as a kid. Watching races there, being a part of it, seeing and loving what it’s all about is a big part of who I am. The way it all came together last year, every aspect of it made it perfect for me. Having the Buckeye helmet and gear, having my entire family there – which never happens, ever, since everyone is spread out –having the crowd support, to have that sort of experience makes it impossible to tell anyone how much it means to me. The sense of accomplishment for me is so great. Everyone knows this but I love Ohio. I’m very proud to be from Ohio and that event means so much to me. To win it is a career accomplishment that I will never forgot or take for granted. It means just as much to me now as it did then. To me it’s one of the highlights of my lifetime, and definitely the most meaningful win of my career. I sure hope it happens again but you never know.
What is the pressure for Rahal to win at him in Mid-Ohio?
Now there is probably less pressure because we have won there. I think the fans around Mid-Ohio have wondered if or when that (win) was going to happen. I hope it revitalizes the fan base. Last year the crowd was probably the best I had ever seen. I just hope more and more people come out and support us this year.
Rahal has two podium finishes on road courses this year coming at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America and speaking about the competitiveness of the No.15 Honda this weekend he commented by saying:
I expect that we should be very competitive and our performance from the other road courses should carry over to Mid-Ohio. The tricky part is that everyone is competitive nowadays. There are no longer any bad teams or non-contenders. So I fully expect it to be a patented tight IndyCar race weekend and I hope the Steak ‘n Shake team can come out on top again!
Rahal who is just outside the top ten in the series standings in 11th place heading to Mid-Ohio this weekend is just purely focused on this years race saying:
I think more than anything we are just focused on this year and what it will take to win again. We have certainly had an up and down season, and are in need of a good result this weekend in a big way. It’s exciting to go back as the defending champion, but we want to do that again year in and year out. We just have to focus on the task at hand, and hopefully we can pull it off.
The Verizon IndyCar Series went from Toronto to Mid-Ohio last week for a test and speaking about how it went Rahal commented by saying:
The test was good. We were focused on getting to the mileage limit on our Honda engine, which we successfully did. Now we turn our attention to finding little bits of speed we will need to be quick come this weekend. I hope we can get the balance a bit better, but it didn’t feel far off on the test day.
What does Rahal think it would take to win back to back races in Mid-Ohio this year?
A lot of variables go into this, but making sure we do all the right things, make the right strategy calls, qualify well, and most importantly have a little bit of support from Lady Luck. If all of that happens, we should be a contender.”