Rahal Finishes Ninth Saturday In Hard-Fought Star Mazda Race At Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga, April 16 - Graham Rahal returned to the site of his SCCA national victory on March 27, Road Atlanta Motorsports Park, to finish a solid ninth out of 42...
Rahal Finishes Ninth Saturday In Hard-Fought Star Mazda Race At Road Atlanta
BRASELTON, Ga, April 16 - Graham Rahal returned to the site of his SCCA national victory on March 27, Road Atlanta Motorsports Park, to finish a solid ninth out of 42 entries Saturday afternoon in the Star Mazda race that supported Sunday's Sportsbook.com American Le Mans Series event.
He was in the Andersen Walko Racing No. 12 for both events. The car is sponsored by The Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, Bosch, Norwalk Furniture and Renier Construction.
The 16-year-old son of Bobby Rahal qualified eighth for the 30-lap event on Road Atlanta's 2.54-mile road course Saturday morning. He got right to business at the drop of the green, blasting from eighth to fifth by the end of lap one.
Jonathan Bomarito got around him on lap two to push him to sixth and Luis Schiavo wiggled by on lap three to push him to seventh, right in front of the driver who went on to win the race, Raphael Matos.
Rahal not only held Matos off for four laps, he advanced to sixth by lap five. Matos got by him on lap seven, but Rahal continued to run in seventh place from lap eight through lap 16. Marco Andretti got by him at that point to push him to eighth. James Hinchcliffe took eighth on the next-to-last lap, and Rahal took the checkered in ninth place for another points-earning finish.
In addition to traffic, Rahal had his hands full just keeping his car on the track due to excessive tire wear.
"I blistered my front tires," he said succinctly afterwards.
"The start was awesome," he recalled. "I got up to fifth. But then my tires blistered, and I just had to concentrate on finishing.
"The car was good for a few laps, but then suddenly the push kicked in, mainly on the right-handers. My tires are all gone, but especially my left front.
"I had one close call when somebody didn't give me much room, but no real contact."
Although there were many cars off course, surprisingly there were no full-course cautions in the 30-lap/45-minute event.
"There were cars off everywhere," Rahal added. "Robbie Montonola flipped; it was a rough race. [Montonola wasn't hurt.] There were cars off the course everywhere but no real debris on the track; a little bit, but nothing big."
Rahal's next race is at his home track, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on Saturday, May 21.
Fans can watch Rahal finish third in the season opener at Sebring, Fla. in March when that race is telecast at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Sunday, April 24 on SPEED.
Saturday's race at Road Atlanta is scheduled to be aired on the same network on Sunday, May 29 at 2 p.m.
Rahal's Web site will debut soon at www.grahamrahal.com, while his sponsor's Web site is at www.bobbyrahal.com. His team's Web site is at www.andersenwalko.com. Other interesting information can be found at www.starmazda.com and www.restartcommunications.com.