ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin — Graham Rahal had by all accounts a quiet drive to fourth place in Sunday’s REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR at Road America. Like all drivers, though, Rahal wanted more.
The No. 15 Gehl/Manitou Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing started fifth, sporting a tribute livery paying homage to the 25-year anniversary of his father’s car that finished ninth at the same track, the same year Honda entered Indy car competition and powered Bobby Rahal’s car with Miller Genuine Draft sponsorship. (See photo at bottom of the two cars along with Bobby and Graham Rahal.)
Graham Rahal never ran lower than his starting position the entire 55-lap race on the 14-turn, 4.014-mile permanent road course. He was the only driver to lead a lap besides race winner Alexander Rossi, rising to first place on Lap 42 as he made his final pit stop of the day.
“Our Gehl car was pretty strong today,” Rahal said. "We’re happy with fourth but would’ve liked to have been on the podium. I thought we could be there for a while, but I messed up on one of my out laps (following a pit stop) and it cost me a little bit of time.”
Rahal came out of his final stop in fourth place behind Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden. Try as he might, the Ohio native could not get around the 2018 Road America race winner.
“We were close,” he said. “Just didn’t quite have enough of everything to get closer. I think we were better than Newgarden. … It’s easy to catch him, but it’s harder to get by. Two different things.
“He was doing a good job and not making too many mistakes, so it’s hard. You try to force guys like that into a mistake, but obviously they’re all veterans up front and it’s hard to do. We were a little bit quicker, but it’s still difficult to get it completed.”
Still, it marked the fourth straight top-seven finish for Rahal and sixth in 10 races this season. He sits eighth in NTT IndyCar Series points with momentum as the series enjoys a couple weekends off before heading north of the border to the Honda Indy Toronto for the July 12-14 race weekend.
“The team’s doing a good job,” Rahal said. "The guys are working hard, the engineers are working hard, the mechanics, everybody putting together good, reliable cars. We’re finally getting rewarded a little bit. We’ve got a little bit of work to do but we are improving quickly.”
Rahal has three top-10 finishes in the last six races at Toronto, where his dad and team co-owner won the first Indy car event held on the streets of Exhibition Place in 1986. This year’s race airs live at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, July 14 on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.