FONTANA, Calif. (June 27, 2015) – Graham Rahal (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda) won an exhilarating and drama-filled MAVTV 500 on Saturday at Auto Club Speedway.
“It was a good day. It was pretty entertaining,” said Rahal, who won for the first time on an oval and started 19th out of 23 cars on the grid. “There was quite a lot of action out there. From where we started, we climbed 19 spots. That was nuts, but that was fun.”
The win for Rahal and his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team ended a long drought as it was his first checkered flag since early in 2008, a span of 125 races. It was also the first victory for Honda in this series since July of 2014.
The 250-lap race featured 14 leaders and a Verizon IndyCar Series-record 83 lead changes. The previous record was 73 set in a 2001 race at ACS.
“The downforce vs. tire life combination was just right to produce four different lanes of racing and that’s what made it entertaining,” Rahal added. “Those (fans) that came, I think they got quite a show. From a driver’s perspective, it was pretty nerve-racking at times. Going four-wide, I was thinking I hadn’t done this for years and years. I always felt when I went in there, I was going to be given some room and the racing was going to be pretty good.”
Reigning MAVTV 500 champion Tony Kanaan (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) was second behind Rahal with his third IndyCar Series runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway (2004, 2005, 2015).
“It was a crazy race,” Kanaan said. “I am glad that I am in one piece. Congrats to (Graham). All in all, not a bad result. I think it was a great race for the fans. I tried to stay in front all day. It was a closer race than we all expected. Fortunately, we all survived.”
Marco Andretti (No. 27 Snapple Honda) placed third. Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske) finished fourth to extend his Verizon IndyCar Series points lead to 46 over Will Power (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), and rookie Sage Karam (No. 8 Comfort Revolution / Big Machine Records Chevrolet) earned his highest finish of fifth in his eight-race career at the track where he wrapped up the 2013 Indy Lights championship.
With just two laps remaining in the race, Ryan Briscoe (No. 5 Arrow / Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson) was involved in a scary crash as his car flipped high in the air and landed nose-first in the infield grass. Briscoe, who was not injured in the crash, was involved in contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda).
With nine laps left, there was another crash between Power and Takuma Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda) that brought out a yellow that led to a red flag and Rahal held on in the restart.
Concluded Rahal: “I’m most happy for my Dad (Bobby Rahal) and (team owners) Dave (Letterman) and Mike (Lanigan). There was a lot of comments that people made about our owners that weren’t fair. I’m excited to talk to Dad. I’m definitely looking forward to tonight, I can tell you that. It’s been a good year. We’re starting to find our form everywhere a little bit. My sights are still set on finishing in the top five in points. Top five is really achievable. Enough can’t be said for this team. You got to understand we’re understaffed by a couple of people. We don’t have the resources other teams do.”