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Rahal took IndyCar pole despite “really tricky” brake issue

Graham Rahal took his first IndyCar Series pole for six years despite a brake problem with his car, which he revealed caused him to lock-up on his fastest lap.

He said the Fast Six session was “really tricky” due to the problem, but he beat his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team-mate Christian Lundgaard by just over a tenth of a second to take his fourth career pole and his first since Detroit 2017.

“In Q1, I think we were still P2 or 3, but I was not pleased at all with the car,” he said. “Even in Q2, when we were P1, it was just a terrible lap.

“That's always a good sign. It's nice to be able to feel that way. It's been a long, long time since I felt very in control, could make it happen when we needed to, put it together.

“Q3, it was really tricky, frankly. My brake pedal was really, really long through all of qualifying, which it was this morning, too. We bled them. Thought it was going to be better. It wasn't.

“I locked a few times in Q3. Kind of released the pedal and hoped it stuck, and it worked out.”

When asked to explain the problem further, he replied: “The one thing I will say with these brakes, if you rebuild the calipers and stuff back at the shop, for some reason it's exceptionally hard to get them functioning correctly afterwards. It takes a lot of time.”

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

His Indy pole comes on his racing return to the fabled IMS racetrack, where last time out he suffered a rollercoaster Indy 500 weekend – failing to qualify in his own car, and then starting the race late as he subbed for the injured Stefan Wilson.

“You move on from May as best you can,” he said. “There's a lot of frequent reminders what happened there, not only in qualifying, but the car not running at the start of the race, things like that.

“Those are things that build character. I haven't told many people this, but when I got back to my phone after May, after qualifying, the very first voice mail I had was from Al Unser Jr.

“Guys like that, you see somebody like him who's been here, who's won here, but he's also seen the lows of the low. The best have went through it.”

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

Rahal says the result doesn’t have a major impact on his plans for 2024, having previously suggested that he might race outside of his father’s team once more.

“It's still a work in progress,” he said. “Nothing's signed, nothing's changed. My intentions are to stay.

“We've got an extremely, extremely good core group of sponsors, I think better than anybody else in the series. That's growing for next year. There's no intentions to swap. I have talked to others, but that doesn't mean that I'm one foot out the door.

“Everybody knows this: I wanted to not only evaluate where the team stands, but myself. I think it's important to take a step back, look in the mirror, figure out where do I want to go, what do I want to do?

“Running qualifying on pole helps those decisions, for sure, knowing that you can still do it, knowing you can be up front. A win tomorrow would make it even sweeter.

“At the end of the day I think a lot of people just assume I'm going to retire at some stage soon. I mean, I'm only 34. I know I've been here for a hundred years, but I still feel like I've got a little while left.”

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