A tremendous effort by “Son of ‘Stache” and for the most part his crew earned the single car team high marks. RLL underwent a maturation from last year to this, growing into a certified championship contender. Improving three full letter grades, Rahal made the biggest turnaround in the entire paddock. This follows a dreadful season, another winless campaign and loss of a major sponsor. The diminutive team pulled off quite an achievement, especially considering it was all accomplished with Honda – and without a mustache.
The series’ latest all American star – at least since Josef Newgarden in April – Graham won at both Fontana and Mid-Ohio, prevailing in the former with a fuel hose attached to his car for a portion of it. Certainly it can be said that he won at one entertaining race track, anyway. In fact he nearly triumphed in several more races coming within a whisker of doing it, finishing second both at Barber funnily enough and the Grand Prix of Indy – the 500 it isn’t.
Almost incredibly, a real live IndyCar race broke out for the first time in six visits to the amazingly gorgeous and beautiful facility outside Birmingham. Tennessee’s native son Josef Newgarden prevailed, making co-owner Sarah Fisher exceptionally happy. She’s stuck by him for four years and it finally paid off on a day Newkid’s dad not only made the broadcast, but also called him a “bad ass” on live television. Newgarden’s benefited greatly from his team’s switch to Chevy this year and it showed. When you’re seeing three wide racing at Barber – not to mention ten lead changes – you know it’s going to be an unusually entertaining race. It was one of those magical Sundays in IndyCarland that keep we fans coming back for more.
Photo from indycar.com
The race didn’t start out that magically however, with a Penske front row for the fifth consecutive race and the TCGR cars lurking nearby. But also there at the front of the field and largely overlooked was young Josef Newgarden, who’d had a decent season already and started fifth. The twenty four year old would hang tough all day and eventually take the lead for good as his competitors had penalties, pit issues and other problems to contend with in addition to CFHR’s road course ace. Newgarden proved too stout for the field, cruising to his first IndyCar victory in fifty five races and providing his team with its coveted first win.