Graham Rahal felt he had the car to win the 2021 Indianapolis 500, with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver making excellent fuel numbers and showing competitive pace until his race ended in the barriers on lap 118.
Rahal was on course to make one less pit stop than any of his rivals but a botched pit stop – his left rear tyre was not attached properly before he was released from his pit box – caused his retirement.
As he accelerated out of the pits, the wheel detached itself from his #15 United Rentals Dallara Honda, causing him to spin into the barriers at turn two. His detached wheel was then struck by Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly.
Rahal showed his frustration after the incident, feeling he had the chance of taking his maiden Indianapolis 500 victory, although he stopped short at laying any blame on his mechanics.
“The Indy 500 ends in disappointment,” said Rahal. “A little more so today because I really think we had them today, I really do. We were good on one more stop and everybody else needed two.
“I can’t tell you how bad this one stings, but we win as a team, we lose as a team. From a strategy standpoint we saved the fuel, we were kicking their butts on the fuel save, we were looking really good at the end to maybe even do just one more stop.
“I know there’s a long way to go but the fuel numbers we were getting; we actually short pitted the last time and could have gone a little bit further but these day. These (to do this well in the Indy 500) don’t come around very often. Definitely, today I thought we had ’em. I’m glad I’m okay.
“The boys did an excellent job all month – I’m not disappointed in them. I know there is a lot of pressure on their shoulders. Everyone’s trying hard but I think this one’s going to sting. It’s great (to have fans at the race), the fans make this whole event and without them last year it was a real bummer.
“To have them this year is just amazing. I really wanted to see that United Rentals car in Victory Lane, but we came up just short – that’s the way it goes sometimes.”