After feeling that he could dominate in Detroit on Friday, Graham Rahal showed that he knew what he was talking about as he took his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory of 2017 in race one around the streets of Belle Isle on Saturday.
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver started from pole position and converted that into a first lap lead, and then made a two-stop strategy work to perfection to win by 6.1474 seconds from Scott Dixon, leading 55 of the 70 laps.
Rahal was thankful to his team for giving him a great car this weekend around the Belle Isle circuit, and he rewarded them in the best possible way by putting it into victory lane.
“First of all, I got to say thanks to my boys,” said Rahal. “The guys did a great job in the pits. You know, Eddie (Jones, engineer), Martin (Pare, engineer), Mike (Talbott, head of vehicle dynamics), Tom (German, engineering consultant), all the engineers, Alex (Farina, engineer), all the guys that came up with this set-up. We rolled off the truck and it was right there.
“So definitely pleased with that because we changed one thing this weekend. That doesn’t normally happen, so I’m really excited about that. But, yes, we were firing on all cylinders today. We were able to match whatever pace we needed to.”
Rahal admitted that his comments about dominating did not go down too well with some of his fellow drivers, but it was confidence in his car more than anything that made him feel that way, and he was happy to show what he could do out in front of the race around Motor City.
“We were able to run some blistering fast times while saving a ton of fuel, so thanks to Honda for that,” said Rahal. “I could certainly do the number that I needed to. You know, it’s just a routine day.
“As I said to you guys yesterday, and trust me, a lot of drivers didn’t like my comment that I felt like I could dominate if I got out front, but I didn’t lie. I didn’t say that in any other way other than I felt that confident in my car. It’s not about anything else. I just knew if I could be out front in clean air, we could do what we did today. I’m very fortunate for the team around me.
“The guys did a tremendous job. For United Rentals, Soldier Strong, Turns For Troops, we raised a lot more money, hopefully we sold some T-shirts today. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.”