Graham Rahal was left cursing his bad luck at just missing the chance to pit when a caution period fell in Toronto’s Honda Indy, dropping him from a near-certain podium finish to an eventual ninth.
Rahal’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda was running third, close behind Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, when the full-course caution fell because Tony Kanaan had slid into the tire wall at Turn 1.
Josef Newgarden, in fourth, had time to duck into the pits before IndyCar closed the pits, as is traditional under full-course yellows, to prevent drivers passing accident scenes at racing speed where the Holmatro Safety Team might be working and rushing to the pits.
Instead the field was bunched up, and all those who had already stopped were able to cycle to the front, as Castroneves, Pagenaud and Rahal all stopped. Newgarden therefore led, and went on to win.
“I got the call after we passed pit-in,” said Rahal. “Newgarden was just lucky because he was falling off the train of the three of us [Castroneves, Pagenaud, Rahal]. He was 2.5 seconds behind us, or just enough to get the call. When they said to me ‘Pit, pit’ I was turning into Turn 9.”
“We played it right today but got unlucky. The three best cars didn’t win the race or finish 1-2-3. There was nobody that was a match for the three of us all day. It’s a shame but sometimes luck plays a role in these things. Congrats to Josef, he still brought it home but you could see in the first stint that Simon, Helio and myself were taking off and I felt that was a pretty easy pace for us to maintain and go from there.
“I’m frustrated because today was a day we should have easily gained a lot of points on Dixon, Newgarden and everybody else,” said Rahal who won the double-header at Detroit and started from the front row here toda but unfortunately the way the officials have decided to close the pits these days, luck plays a huge factor and today it bit us.
“We got it home and got another top-10 but I’m disappointed and rightly so – and for our guys are too. They know the car that we put on the track today was a car that was capable of winning this race. The guys did a great job in the pits and I think we have proven that the #15 is one of the cars to beat, each and every single weekend, and probably legitimately one of the few that can take it to Penske every weekend.”