Rahal Posts Another Top-Five Finish In Star Mazda Race at Mosport NEW ALBANY, Ohio, Sept. 6 - Sixteen-year-old racing sensation Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio posted yet another top-five finish in Star Mazda competition in his rookie season...
Rahal Posts Another Top-Five Finish In Star Mazda Race at Mosport
NEW ALBANY, Ohio, Sept. 6 - Sixteen-year-old racing sensation Graham Rahal of New Albany, Ohio posted yet another top-five finish in Star Mazda competition in his rookie season when he finished fifth in that series' race on Saturday at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada.
Rahal qualified sixth in his yellow No. 12, which is sponsored by The Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, Bosch, Renier Construction and Norwalk Furniture. He ran in seventh until lap 17 when he passed Marco Andretti, and he got fifth with five laps to go by passing one of his Andersen Walko Racing teammates, Pablo Donoso.
"I kind of had a bad start, and Pablo got around me," Rahal explained afterwards. "Then I went down out of turn three and [Raphael] Matos pulled me into the grass, and that let Andretti get by us both.
"Then I was just trying to make my way back up," he said. "I got Andretti going into three. I got a good run on him and just passed him. Then I caught Pablo and snuck by him on the backstraightaway."
Rahal was generally pleased with how his car ran. "The car was pretty good," he said. "We're struggling with a few things. We don't quite have the straightaway speed we need, but other than that it was pretty good. We need to find some things, but we'll get there."
Rahal was never out of the top 10 in any of the preliminary sessions, and he was third in one of them with an average speed of 115.868 mph (1:16.401) around the 2.49-mile road course. He qualified with a 1:15.582 (117.123 mph). His fastest lap in the race on Saturday was a 1:16.441.
A total of 31 drivers competed in the event, which was presented by Goodyear and was a support event for the Labour Day Grand Prix of Mosport American Le Mans Series headliner.
Rahal is fourth in the national point standings of the Star Mazda series. Only two races remain this season. They will be held at Road Atlanta Sept. 28-30 (part of the Petit Le Mans) and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Oct. 13-15.
Earlier this year Rahal became the youngest driver in the history of the Star Mazda series to win a national event. His victory at Portland International Raceway will be telecast at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 on SPEED. The race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. is scheduled to be shown on the same network at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2. Saturday's race at Mosport is scheduled to air on Sunday, Oct. 28 at noon on SPEED. All times are Eastern.
Rahal has also earned an invitation to the Super Bowl of amateur sports car racing, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National Championship Runoffs presented by Kohler, which will be held on the 2.4-mile, 15-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio Sept. 19 through Sept. 25.
Rahal is one of 27 drivers entered in the national championship for the Formula Atlantic division at the Runoffs, an event that features over 700 drivers competing in 24 different classes. He'll drive a 2003 Swift 014, No. 3.
Qualifying for the Formula Atlantic class is scheduled to be held at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20; at 8:25 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21; and at 10:50 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22. The winner-take-all 20-lap/40-minute Formula Atlantic championship race will be the last event of the day on Friday, Sept. 23 at approximately 5:10 p.m.
In the September issue of Sports Car magazine the editors picked Rahal to win, noting "he seems to improve with every race and impresses all who observe his progress."
His father won two national championship at the Runoffs in his formative years (1974 in B Sports Racer and 1975 in his first Formula Atlantic drive for Doug Shierson). This is the last year that the Runoffs will be held in Rahal's home state of Ohio, as the event moves to Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas beginning in 2006.
All that hasn't been lost on the teen, but he's being very mature about any pressure he might feel.
"It's nice to be picked to win, but it's one of those things where you have to go in hoping to win but not thinking you're going to, because then something will happen and you won't," he said. "That's just the way it works.
"I think we have a good chance though," he added. "With the resources we have, we should win, but I'm not saying that just because I'm the driver. We have Burke Harrison, probably the best Atlantic engineer in the world, working with us. He's extremely good.
"I know Mid-Ohio; we won a national race there by 20 seconds over Ben Beasley, who is always good. We have to go in there hoping for the best but not get cocky or overwhelmed. This is really only my third race at Mid-Ohio."
Still, a national championship would be wonderful.
"Everybody understands that winning the Runoffs is a huge deal, so that's what I'm trying to do," Rahal noted. "Dad won it; there is a long line of history there. Unfortunately I lost the Central Division points by one point, but I only did four races and the other guys did all of them. That's frustrating, but I gave up the June Sprints to run the Mazda.
"We just need to keep our heads down and really go for it."
That race is scheduled to be broadcast on SPEED on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.
Rahal's Web site is located at grahamrahal.com, while his sponsor's Web site is at bobbyrahal.com. His Star Mazda team's Web site is at andersenwalko.com. Other interesting information can be found at starmazda.com, americanlemans.com, scca.com and restartcommunications.com.