Rahal denies Hinchcliffe in thrilling Texas finish

by Paul Hensby

Graham Rahal secured his first victory of the season in a thrilling race at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night, winning by just 0.0080 seconds from James Hinchcliffe.

The race resumed after previously being red-flagged due to persistent rain on 12 June, with Hinchcliffe in the lead, with 71 of the scheduled 248 laps completed, and it was the Canadian who battled for the lead with Ryan Hunter-Reay in the early stages of the restart.

Helio Castroneves and Ed Carpenter were involved in the tussle for the lead in the early stages, as Hunter-Reay dropped down the order with an unstable car, before a trio of caution periods affected the race.

Scott Dixon clashed with Carpenter on lap 213, with the Chip Ganassi Racing driver hitting the wall as a result, while several laps after the restart, Carpenter was in the wall himself after getting loose on track and being clipped by Castroneves.

The third caution was when Mikhail Aleshin hit the wall and collected the lapped car of Jack Hawksworth, leaving five cars on the lead lap, Hinchcliffe, Rahal, Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud and Castroneves.

Ganassi’s Kanaan gambled on pitting for new tyres but was forced to settle for third as Hinchcliffe led onto the final lap, only to see Rahal sweep around the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport driver to take the victory by the smallest margin ever seen at Texas Motor Speedway. It was a bitter pill for the Canadian driver who had dominated the race, leading for long periods of the race with relative ease.

But for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Rahal, it is a change of luck following a tough 2016 season to date, with the American likely to be relieved to have taken his first victory since Mid-Ohio in 2015.

Pagenaud did his championship hopes the world of good by clinching fourth ahead of Team Penske team-mate Castroneves, while Charlie Kimball was sixth for Chip Ganassi Racing ahead of Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport, who had started the original race on 12 June from pole position.

Will Power finished eighth for Penske, but lost some ground to Pagenaud in the championship battle, and is 29 points behind the Frenchman with just two races of the season to go.

Juan Pablo Montoya took ninth in the fourth of the Penske machines, while Sebastien Bourdais ended tenth for KVSH Racing.

Texas Motor Speedway Race Result

115Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing2:29:24.8886
25James HinchcliffeCANSchmidt Peterson Motorsports+0.0080
310Tony KanaanBRZChip Ganassi Racing+0.0903
422Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske+0.4773
53Helio CastronevesBRZTeam Penske+9.3424
683Charlie KimballUSAChip Ganassi Racing+1 Lap
726Carlos MunozCOLAndretti Autosport+1 Lap
812Will PowerAUSTeam Penske+1 Lap
92Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLTeam Penske+2 Laps
1011Sebastien BourdaisFRAKVSH Racing+2 Laps
1198Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Herta Autosport+2 Laps
1227Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Autosport+3 Laps
1328Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport+3 Laps
1419Gabby ChavesCOLDale Coyne Racing+3 Laps
158Max ChiltonGBRChip Ganassi Racing+5 Laps
RET7Mikhail AleshinRUSSchmidt Peterson MotorsportsRetired
RET41Jack HawksworthGBRAJ Foyt EnterprisesRetired
RET20Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter RacingRetired
RET9Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi RacingRetired
RET14Takuma SatoJAPAJ Foyt EnterprisesRetired
RET18Conor DalyUSADale Coyne RacingRetired
RET21Josef NewgardenUSAEd Carpenter RacingRetired

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