News & Multimedia

Monday Racing Roundup: Rahal Thrills Ohio Fans, Inches Closer to Montoya

O-H followed harmoniously by I-O resounded from the crowded Victory Circle at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and thundered through Thunder Valley on Sunday. Tens of thousands of spectators joined Graham Rahal, who was reared in New Albany, Ohio, in celebrating an emphatic home victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Rahal's surge in the second half of the Verizon IndyCar Series season continued with his second win in five weeks. Rahal, who started 13th in the 90-lap race in the No. 15 Steak 'n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, closed to nine points of Verizon IndyCar Series championship front-runner Juan Pablo Montoya with two races left in the season. There are 10 entries mathematically eligible for the title. 

Since earning his first victory of the season June 27 at Auto Club Speedway -- his first win since March 2008 -- Rahal has placed third, fourth and first to challenge for his first series title.

Rahal’s father, Bob, a team co-owner, won the Indy car races in 1985 and ’86 among his eight podium finishes at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“This track has been special for the Rahal family going back to the days of Jim Trueman,” said Graham Rahal, who wore an Ohio State University football-themed helmet. “Jim was the man who founded this place, got this place going. He was also the one who got my dad started in racing.

“I grew up at this place, running around when my dad was racing. It’s come full circle.”

Rahal is the eighth different winner in nine road/street course races this season. He picked up the lead for good on Lap 68 after the lead pack, including race leader Montoya, pitted under caution for their final fuel/tire service. Rahal ducked in for his final stop on Lap 66 -- just before the yellow flag flew for the off-course car of rookie Sage Karam.

Rahal then fended off Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon on a Lap 84 restart on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course following the fourth full-course caution and went on to win by 3.4 seconds.

"I was just able to just absolutely gap anyone I needed to at the end," Rahal said. "I didn’t have any push-to-passes left on that last restart so I was pretty nervous Wilson would get me.” 

Wilson, who started 14th in the No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda, placed a season-high second. Pagenaud also was a big mover in the race, advancing 12 positions relative to his starting spot in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet to finish a season-best third. Scott Dixon, a five-time winner at Mid-Ohio, started from the pole and finished fourth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He is 25 points behind Rahal in the title chase.

Montoya, who started 10th in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Chevrolet and led 21 laps in the middle of the race -- including the 19 laps preceding his Lap 67 pit stop -- finished 11th.

Up next on the calendar is the ABC Supply 500 on Aug. 23 at Pocono Raceway. The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 30 carries double points (100 for first place, 80 for second, etc., in addition to bonus points for earning the Verizon P1 Award (1 point), leading a lap (1 point) and leading the most race laps (2 points). 

NASCAR Sprint Cup: Kenseth prevails at Pocono

Matt Kenseth, the unexpected winner of Sunday’s Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway, had to do a double take.

So did second and third-place finishers Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon.

Kenseth got a gift on the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch ran out of fuel halfway through the final lap at the 2.5-mile triangular track.

Seeking his fourth straight victory in the series, Busch didn’t save quite enough fuel on the last green-flag run to complete the 160-lap event, but he still gained 10 points toward his goal of reaching the top 30 in the series standings.

Busch, who finished 21st after getting a push toward the finish line from Reed Sorenson, is now 13 points behind 30th-place David Gilliland. Busch has five races to crack the top 30 to become eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Because Busch was pushed by another car, he did not get credit for completing the final lap, but that did not affect his finishing position.

Collectively, the top three finishers led seven laps. Joey Logano, who handed the lead to Busch when the No. 22 Team Penske Ford ran out of fuel with fewer than three laps left, led 97.

But Kenseth wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially after the driver of the No. 20 JGR Toyota did what others failed to do – save enough gas to get to the finish. Kenseth’s second victory of the season locked him into the Chase.

"There’s nothing like wins," said Kenseth, who collected his first victory at Pocono and the 33rd of his career. "We had a lot of wins in 2013 and were pretty spoiled and last year we had a big dry spell, and this year we were able to win Bristol.”

Despite coming tantalizingly close to a fourth straight win, Busch was philosophical about the near miss.

"Man, that’s a bummer," said Busch, who ran out of fuel on the Long Pond straightaway approaching the Tunnel Turn, less than a mile-and-a-half from the finish line. "I wish I would’ve saved a little more there that last run.

"I wish I would’ve known that the 22 (Logano) was that far away from making it. He was way far away from making it. Man, that was just a shame that we weren’t able to get it done there."

Busch took a moment to reflect on what might have been. The empty fuel tank also cost him entry into the top 30.

"We would be celebrating a win and a Chase berth," he said ruefully. "We got greedy. I don’t know how greedy, but that’s the position we’re in.”

NASCAR XFINITY Series: Blaney rebounds at Iowa

As the cautions – and wreckage – piled up, Ryan Blaney didn’t blink.

Trouble reigned for most in the late tension-filled stages of the U.S. Cellular 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Iowa Speedway, but the driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford remained calm and poised.

Seemed so, anyway.

"It’s not ideal," Blaney said of four cautions in the final 20 scheduled laps that interrupted his stirring Saturday night run to Victory Lane. "At all. You have a great car and those late cautions are just chances to give it away."

Not Saturday.

Blaney’s turn at the wheel put the Team Penske No. 22 in Victory Lane at Iowa for the third straight August. Brad Keselowski drove it to wins each of the past two seasons.

Blaney led an astounding 252 laps of 260, churning out the most dominant performance in his young career and first series win of the season after three runner-up finishes.

"It’s crazy that you lead more laps than the race is actually scheduled for," Blaney’s crew chief, Greg Erwin, said.

Crazy indeed, but fitting for Blaney, who felt he had "given away" last weekend’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to Kyle Busch, who made a last-lap pass.

"It really speaks a lot to this team," Blaney said. "(They gave me) a great race car."

Regan Smith finished a season-best second and Brian Scott took third. Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan — who took a late shot at Blaney that slightly damaged both cars — completed the top five.

Show More Show Less
Items 784 - 788 of 1,064