The Jay Graves Report

Graham Rahal is in the Championship Hunt after the weekend sweep of Belle Isle! “In The Hunt”

Graham Rahal puttin' in work in Detroit! Photo: Detroit Free Press

After a 12th place finish in the Indianapolis 500, Graham Rahal vaulted himself into the championship race with a sweep of both races this weekend at Detroit’s Belle ISle road course. Rahal is the first driver in the Verizon Indycar Series all season to log two wins in two races.

Rahal was obviously excited especially after beating out Penske Racing’s Josef Newgarden out in a two-lap shootout. Rahal said, “It’s a special day for us. We’re the first one to win the double (in Detroit), it means a lot. It feels great, trust me. Any day you can beat a Penske driver, it means a lot.”

Newgarden, the runner up battled his way from 13th through the field with a combination of on track speed and pit strategy. These decisions worked out well for Newgarden , just not well enough in his eyes.

“We tried to have the same strategy as (Saturday),” Newgarden said. “Three (pit) stops, running fast and the yellows worked out a lot better for us today. I think that second-to-last stint we lost too much ground when we got stuck behind Simon (Pagenaud) and Will (Power). We couldn’t clear those guys and I think if we could have cleared them we could have had a better shot at Rahal.”

Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato set a new track record in Sunday morning’s qualifying session for race two at 1 minute 13.6732 seconds. The qualifying effort and fourth place finish kept him in the top 3 in points.  “It was a solid result,” said Sato, “I think the team did a great job. We did everything we could and made no mistakes, but we just didn’t quite have the speed today.”

After an early exit in a scary and fiery crash in the 101st Indianapolis 500, Scott Dixon regained control of the championship standings with runner-up and 6th place results this weekend in Detroit. His 8 point lead isn’t vast, but with the season being only halfway done he has plenty of time.

With the month of May clearly now in the rear-view the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for a Saturday night race that will surely add more drama to the championship standings.