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article imageINDYCAR: Rahal wins at home, closes in on series lead

By John Duarte     Aug 3, 2015 in Sports
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Graham Rahal has enjoyed a tremendous second half to the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, including winning the Honda Indy 200, his second victory in four races.
“I knew if I got out front, I felt very confident that nobody could catch me,” said Rahal, who was 3.4 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor when he crossed under the checkered flag. “I was just able to just absolutely gap anyone I needed at the end.”
The win carries special meaning to Rahal who hails from nearby New Albany, a short distance from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Bobby Rahal, Graham's father and team owner, was on the podium eight times at the track during his racing career.
“I grew up at this place, running around when my dad was racing. It's come full circle,” he said. “This track has been special for the Rahal family.”
Rahal had a decent season going in 2015. He had three podium finishes in the first eight races, including a second-place finish at the Indianapolis 500. He has come alive in the last four races, where he has won two and finished no lower than fourth. Rahal chalked up the race to luck being on his side.
“When it's your day, sometimes it's your day,” he said. “We put ourselves in the right places. We made the right strategy calls.”
It could have panned out a lot different as Rahal and eventual runner-up Justin Wilson jockeyed for position, six laps from the end. Rahal said he was a bit nervous as he didn't have any push-to-pass opportunities left while Wilson did.
“If you ever want to race against anybody in that situation, it's Justin Wilson, who is by far the most fair guy out there,” Rahal said. “He got fully around me pretty much, but still gave me room and I just slid down under him and took off.”
Wilson, who is subbing in for the injured James Hinchcliffe, said he was curbing the urge not to jeopardize Rahal's race.
“In the back of my mind, Graham is going for the championship. That's definitely playing in your mind,” said Wilson. “You're on the outside trying to make an outside pass. It's like, 'OK. I got to make sure I got this.'”
Simon Pagenaud, who finished third in the race, joked that Wilson gave Rahal too much room.
“You could have tried a bit harder,” he offered.
Two races remain in the Verizon IndyCar Series and it is looking like the championship will, once again, come down to the final race of the season, as has been the case the last nine years. Juan Pablo Montoya continues atop the driver standings, but Rahal is now only nine points behind the leader, Scott Dixon 34 points off the pace and Helio Castroneves and the defending series champion, Will Power, within striking distance of the leader.
A total of 50 points are awarded for each race along with bonus points awarded to the driver qualifying for the race in the pole position, leading the most laps and leading at least one lap. A few years back, IndyCar instituted a system that double would be awarded at signature events during the season. This year, drivers received double points at the Indianapolis 500 and will again at the final race of the season, the Go-Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma, on Aug. 30, 2015.
Montoya, who has led the series' standings all season, finished out of the Top 10 in the race, but was somewhat Stoic about the final two races and his chances of holding on in the championship race.
“We did everything we were supposed to do today and the race was playing out perfectly for us. Unfortunately, we got a caution with about 25 laps to go that we didn't need. It worked out for some and didn't work out for others,” he said. “We still have the points lead. Ready for Pocono, where we won last year.”
With the drivers championship hanging in the balance, the Verizon IndyCar Series head for the final two races on the 2015 schedule. On Aug. 23, Pocono Raceway hosts the ABC Supply 500 and the season closes one week later at Sonoma Raceway, in California.
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