Graham Rahal: ‘It’s certainly very very different’

INDIANAPOLIS — Graham Rahal entered the North Chataeu Pavillion at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He sat at the interview table in the back of the room and kicked out his feet until the toes of his shoes poked out of the cloth.

Virtually every reporter gathered around and craned their necks to hear every word he’d say. And why wouldn’t they? After all, just four days earlier, teammate Jack Harvey bumped him out of the Indianapolis 500.

But then Rahal received a call.

“I will say that there was a part of me that thought it wasn’t right, and that I was just going to accept that I wasn’t racing and I was going to move forward and move into kind of a different phase and my mental process and the way the rest of my week was going to be,” he said.

One day after Harvey bumped out Rahal, Stefan Wilson pounded the wall in Turn 1 and injured his back. And Rahal was the first choice of Dreyer and Reinbold Racing team owner, Dennie Reinbold.

Instead of watching at home, Rahal finds himself in a “very very different” situation.

Those differences range from a different manufacturer to the fit of gloves.

“Obviously, the engine is different,” he said. “The brakes feel different, like the way the button, everything feels different. The way the end, the buttons feel, too, thumbs to the gloves is different. There’s a lot that goes into that.”

He asked questions about input to the car but felt it wasn’t his place to push the issue. He feels he’s here to “fill out a big void for the weekend.”

Moreover, for one race, he transitions from helping his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammates to racing against them. He is, however, excited for the opportunity.

“I know they’ve had very strong cars. But the mentality is different. My job is turned from maybe a team leader to a guy that wants to go win this thing again. Not that it ever went away, but clearly, I have a chance now that I didn’t, Monday afternoon.”

If Sunday’s his day, the final practice Friday didn’t reflect it. He clocked in 30th, over half a second back of Takuma Sato.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


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