Graham Rahal doesn’t have the fondest memories of Texas Motor Speedway. In 2012, he was in command of what was then the Firestone 550 with a couple of laps remaining.
Then it all unraveled before his eyes.
Rahal drifted into the wall late in the race coming off Turn 4, and what would have been career win No. 2 turn into a second-place finish behind Justin Wilson.
Rahal’s quest to return to Victory Lane has continued through today. His only IndyCar Series win came at St. Petersburg in 2008.
Rahal and the rest of the IndyCar drivers are in full swing this season, and they are about a month away from the annual TMS pit stop. The Star-Telegram caught up with Rahal in advance of the race.
How ready are you to get back to TMS, and try and avenge the near-miss in 2012? I’m looking forward to it. I feel like one got away from me there for sure. No track ever “owes” you per se, but I feel like I have a little unfinished business there.
What do you make of your season to date? It’s been really good; our car has performed really well. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve done and the performances have been great. Coming off a second-place finish [at Barber Motorsports Park on April 26 ], we’ve been in the hunt repeatedly and looking to continue doing that. We’re knocking on the door.
A lot has been made of the new aero kits. Do you think that’s created more interest in the sport? Oh, for sure, the aero kits look completely different and the manufacturers put a lot of time and money into them. And that’s big because we need to continue to grow this sport, increase people’s interest in it. IndyCar racing is very exciting without a doubt, and the new aero kits help it even more.
Another way to grow the sport is by turning the drivers into stars like they’ve done in NASCAR, right? Without a doubt. The drivers are the biggest key and personalities are what makes NASCAR. IndyCar has a heck of a lot of good personalities in the sport, too. Will Power is a funny guy, super funny, and there are a lot of other drivers like that and nobody has a clue who they are. I hope we can get there some day.
When your dad, Bobby Rahal drove, that might have been the sport’s popularity peak. Can it get back there? Yes. I know what it can be because I grew up around it and I feel like I know what it should be. But you’ve got to get the fans and the people to buy in, and we’re still waiting to get to that point. Hopefully, we can get there relatively soon.
Speaking of your dad, your future father-in-law is drag-racing great John Force. Is it hard to live up to those expectations? It does create an expectation with the fans in particular, but I’m used to that now. I don’t really worry about it. I have my own priorities and my own concerns, so the rest handles itself. At this point, I’ve been dealing with it for a long time, but I do find myself around people with some high expectations.
Finally, the Indy 500 is coming up later this month. Put into your words the significance of that event. The Indy 500 is everything to my family, to my team; this is why we do what we do. I think our team is on the verge of something great and the Indy 500 is a great way to break through. I’m pretty excited about my team and the potential that we have … bodes well for great things to come here this month.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760
IndyCar Series’ Firestone 600
At Texas Motor Speedway, June 6
Tickets: texasmotorspeedway.com or by calling 817-215-8500