Graham Rahal prevails in epic Texas IndyCar finish

Graham Rahal has prevailed to win a thrilling Firestone 600 at Texas

Graham Rahal has prevailed to win a thrilling Firestone 600 at Texas

Graham Rahal staged a remarkable last lap pass to claim victory in the Firestone 600 IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

In one of the most absorbing contests in IndyCar history, Rahal perfected an over and under move to pinch victory from James Hinchcliffe by .008s.

Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan finished third in the fifth closest finish in IndyCar history.

Rahal was engaged in a nail-biting fight over a final eight lap sprint with Hinchcliffe, Kanaan and Simon Pagenaud after the race a series of late race cautions.

Hinchcliffe had dominated the race however saw his advantage cruelled by a spate of incidents which changed the complexion of the race which was restarted after it was frozen 76 days ago when rain intervened.

“If Texas Motor Speedway fans didn’t love that then they don’t love racing because that’s probably the best we’ve ever seen here,” a jubilant Rahal said after a breath-taking finish.

As much as Rahal was on cloud nine, Hinchcliffe was gutted after sustaining a flawless race over the 248 journey, maintaining his advantage after leading when rain forced the original start of the race in June to be stopped after only 71 laps were in the books.

“There’s no words to describe it to lead all the way. Those yellows towards the end just killed us,” Hinchcliffe said.

“It’s tough to be this disappointed with our best finish of the season.”

The series remains on an knife-edge with two races remaining including the double points Sonoma finale next month.

Pagenaud managed to squeeze out his lead by eight more points over team-mate Will Power who was classified in eighth. The Frenchman has moved to a 28-point advantage over 2014 series champion Power.

Helio Castroneves held on to finish fifth in a wounded Penske machine ahead of Charlie Kimball (Ganassi) and Carlos Munoz (Andretti Autosport).

Andretti’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, classified three laps down in 13th, had a strong run early but pitted early after complaining of loose handling in his Andretti Autosport Honda.

After the first round of pit stops Castroneves found himself in the lead from Hinchcliffe with Hunter-Reay fighting back to third.

A tense battle ensued for fourth which involved Power, Rahal, Ed Carpenter, Scott Dixon and Kanaan at half-race distance.

Meanwhile Hunter-Reay continued to experience handling problems and began to slip back through the field from his prominent position.

By Lap 164 Hinchcliffe, who had settled into a comfortable position, pitted from the lead after a 42 lap stint but maintained his advantage in front after rejoining the battle.

Meanwhile Power and Pagenaud were matching strategy and continued their push at the sharp end of the top 10.

Carpenter began eating into Hinchcliffe’s lead inside the last 50 laps as the race became a tyre battle to the finish.

However Dixon, who was a lap down, engaged in a battle with second placed with Carpenter before clipping the rear of the Fuzzy’s car which ended the Kiwi’s race on Lap 213.

The crash enabled the field, with the exception of leader Hinchcliffe and his pursuer Carpenter, to pit for fresh rubber for the final frantic run home with 28 laps to go.

Five laps after the restart Carpenter broke loose and was clipped by Castroneves causing the former to contact the wall heavily.

Castroneves was forced to pit under the yellow to replace his damaged rear wing assembly after he grazed the wall in the incident.

It left Castroneves to rejoin in fifth place, the last of the runners then on the lead lap.

On the restart Alex Rossi, who was three laps down, shot into the lead from Hinchcliffe who was in a battle with Kanaan.

A third caution period was soon waved when Mikhail Aleshin (Schmidt Peterson) spun leaving Jack Hawksworth (AJ Foyt) with nowhere to go, resulting in heavy contact.

It gave IndyCar the opportunity to shuffle the lapped cars out of the way to ensure a clean fight for the win with the handful of cars still on the lead lap.

Conor Daly (Dale Coyne Racing) and Josef Newgarden (Ed Carpenter Racing) did not compete after both were involved in a massive shunt on Lap 41 before the race was frozen in June following a rain storm.

*more to follow

RESULT: Firestone 600

Pos

SP

Car

Driver

C/A/E/T

Lap

Laps Down

Time Down

Pit Stops

Elapsed Time

Avg Speed

Pts

Running/Reason Out

1

13

15

Rahal, Graham

D/H/H/F

248

0

–.—-

15

02:29:24.8886

144.901

51

Running

2

10

5

Hinchcliffe, James

D/H/H/F

248

0

0.0080

11

02:29:24.8966

144.901

43

Running

3

8

10

Kanaan, Tony

D/C/C/F

248

0

0.0903

15

02:29:24.9789

144.900

36

Running

4

6

22

Pagenaud, Simon

D/C/C/F

248

0

0.4773

15

02:29:25.3659

144.894

32

Running

5

3

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/C/F

248

0

9.3424

17

02:29:34.2310

144.750

31

Running

6

15

83

Kimball, Charlie

D/C/C/F

247

1

15

02:29:25.6133

144.305

28

Running

7

1

26

Munoz, Carlos

D/H/H/F

247

1

15

02:29:26.1241

144.297

28

Running

8

7

12

Power, Will

D/C/C/F

247

1

14

02:29:27.8471

144.269

24

Running

9

17

2

Montoya, Juan Pablo

D/C/C/F

246

2

16

02:29:25.2576

143.727

22

Running

10

18

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

D/C/C/F

246

2

17

02:29:27.6260

143.689

20

Running

11

9

98

Rossi, Alexander (R)

D/H/H/F

246

2

17

02:29:27.6759

143.688

19

Running

12

12

27

Andretti, Marco

D/H/H/F

245

3

18

02:29:26.5832

143.121

18

Running

13

11

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

D/H/H/F

245

3

17

02:29:27.4449

143.108

18

Running

14

22

19

Chaves, Gabby

D/H/H/F

245

3

12

02:29:27.9809

143.099

16

Running

15

19

8

Chilton, Max (R)

D/C/C/F

243

5

17

02:29:30.2071

141.896

15

Running

16

16

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

D/H/H/F

231

17

13

02:16:15.6790

147.997

14

Contact

17

20

41

Hawksworth, Jack

D/H/H/F

227

21

18

02:16:16.5416

145.419

13

Contact

18

14

20

Carpenter, Ed

D/C/C/F

223

25

11

02:08:41.4871

151.276

13

Contact

19

2

9

Dixon, Scott

D/C/C/F

211

37

13

01:58:46.1483

155.093

11

Contact

20

4

14

Sato, Takuma

D/H/H/F

160

88

14

01:43:27.0551

135.021

10

Mechanical

21

21

18

Daly, Conor (R)

D/H/H/F

42

206

0

00:18:07.1680

202.357

9

Contact

22

5

21

Newgarden, Josef

D/C/C/F

41

207

1

00:18:07.0967

197.552

9

Contact

Points standings

1

Simon Pagenaud

529

2

Will Power

501

3

Tony Kanaan

416

4

Helio Castroneves

415

5

Josef Newgarden 

406

6

Scott Dixon

397

7

Graham Rahal 

394

8

James Hinchcliffe 

392

9

Carlos Munoz 

382

10

Charlie Kimball

361

11

Ryan Hunter-Reay

348

12

Alexander Rossi

346

13

Juan Pablo Montoya

345

14

Sebastien Bourdais

334

15

Mikhail Aleshin

301

16

Takuma Sato

275

17

Marco Andretti

273

18

Conor Daly

263

19

Max Chilton

219

20

Jack Hawksworth

191

21

Spencer Pigot

134

22

Gabby Chaves

121

23

J.R. Hildebrand

84

24

Oriol Servia

72

25

Ed Carpenter 

67

26

Luca Filippi 

61

27

Townsend Bell

55

28

Pippa Mann

46

29

Matthew Brabham

37

30

Alex Tagliani

35

31

Sage Karam

22

32

Bryan Clauson

21

33

Stefan Wilson

14

34

Buddy Lazier

12

35

R.C. Enerson

11

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