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INDYCAR NEWS 

Rahal not surprised to reach third

Graham Rahal, Ganassi, Indianapolis 2011Graham Rahal said he was always confident he had the pace to fight for victory in the Indianapolis 500 despite only starting 30th following a fraught qualifying weekend.

Mechanical problems on Pole Day left the Ganassi driver to squeeze into the field on Bump Day, but he charged up the order in the race and eventually finished third.

Though fellow Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti had seemed like favourites for victory early on, Rahal said he was not surprised that he had ended up being Ganassi's top finisher.

"Am I surprised? Not really, because I could have told you last week I thought we probably had the best race car of any of our team-mates," he said.

"We don't debrief together. But when you hear the mumblings from the other trailer, as far as what they're thinking or how they're feeling, I don't think anybody felt as confident in their race car as I did. So I'm not surprised."

Rahal was sure he could have caught winner Dan Wheldon given a little more time. Second-placed JR Hildebrand crashed at the final corner while leading and scraped across the line with a wrecked car.

"Obviously, I feel great about it," he said of his third-place finish. "At the same time if it were two laps longer, I'd probably be drinking milk right now.

"I feel great about what my guys did today. Someone just told me we passed 67 cars today and didn't win. I passed Hildebrand probably four times today and I passed Wheldon once.

"We knew we had probably one of the best cars out there. At the end, we were running probably a little bit too much downforce to do some of those big numbers, which is why Dixon passed me after that last restart. I didn't quite have the pace out front. But in traffic, I was as good as anybody."

He was pleased that he had battled his way through the field rather than gaining places through an alternative strategy.

"[Dixon and Franchitti] were obviously faster than us I think today in outright pace," Rahal said. "But our strategy was pretty simple. What I'm most impressed about is we never did anything off strategy. I thought to get to the front we were definitely going to have to do that. But we didn't."

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