Fontana IndyCar: Graham Rahal ends win drought in tense race

Graham Rahal ended a streak of 125 IndyCar races without a win in a frantic Fontana event that ended under a full course caution following a big incident

Fontana IndyCar: Graham Rahal ends win drought in tense race

A red flag late on, caused by contact between Takuma Sato and Will Power, led to a three-lap sprint to the flag with a lead group encompassing Rahal, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The battle lasted mere moments as Briscoe and Hunter-Reay made contact, launching the former into the air (pictured below) and spewing debris across the start/finish line.

Both drivers were unhurt, as Sato and Power were in their crash, though Power was among those heavily critical of the pack-style racing seen throughout the 500-mile race.

Rahal finished the final caution lap to win the race ahead of Kanaan and Andretti, recovering from an earlier setback when he left the pits with the fuel hose attached.

The victory was the first for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver since his shock victory with Newman/Haas in St Petersburg in 2008, just two races into the Champ Car/IndyCar merger.

Kanaan and Andretti had been first to take the lead away from polesitter Simon Pagenaud early on in the race, and a slow opening pitstop would further damage Pagenaud's victory hopes as Andretti established himself in first place.

As the race approached the halfway mark, drivers who would go on to play a huge part in the late drama emerged with Rahal, Power and Sato all joining the leading pack.

The continual battle for the top spot soon halted for the race's first caution as Helio Castroneves' shortlived lead ended with a crash into the barrier.

Rahal resumed the lead after that pause with Power proving his closest rival before the second full course caution arrived when CFH duo Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden came together.

The pack racing then became ever more tense into the final 50 laps before the pair of dramatic late incidents set up Rahal's return to the top step of the podium.

Behind the top three, Montoya stretched his championship lead with fourth place for Penske, followed by Ganassi's rookie Sage Karam.

RESULTS - 250 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 2h57m40.6179s
2 Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 0.3157s
3 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 1.2490s
4 Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 2.1182s
5 Sage Karam Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 2.9539s
6 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 3.6092s
7 James Jakes Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 4.9846s
8 Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 5.3595s
9 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 7.4054s
10 Jack Hawksworth AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda 9.5128s
11 Carlos Munoz Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 11.6907s
12 Stefano Coletti KV Racing Technology Dallara/Chevrolet 11.9206s
13 Pippa Mann Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 24.3450s
14 Sebastien Bourdais KVSH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 25.1511s
15 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda Contact
16 Ryan Briscoe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda Contact
17 Tristan Vautier Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 4 Laps
18 Takuma Sato AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda Contact
19 Will Power Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet Contact
20 Gabby Chaves Bryan Herta Autosport Dallara/Honda 13 Laps
21 Josef Newgarden CFH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet Contact
22 Ed Carpenter CFH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet Contact
23 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet Contact

LEADING CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Juan Pablo Montoya 407
2 Will Power 361
3 Scott Dixon 358
4 Graham Rahal 334
5 Helio Castroneves 330
6 Marco Andretti 308
7 Sebastien Bourdais 290
8 Tony Kanaan 285
9 Josef Newgarden 277
10 Simon Pagenaud 256
11 Charlie Kimball 248
12 Carlos Munoz 236
13 Takuma Sato 213
14 Ryan Hunter-Reay 210
15 James Jakes 190
16 Gabby Chaves 178
17 Jack Hawksworth 171
18 Luca Filippi 161
19 Stefano Coletti 140
20 James Hinchcliffe 129

shares
comments
Fontana IndyCar: Pagenaud leads Castroneves in all-Penske front row

Previous article

Fontana IndyCar: Pagenaud leads Castroneves in all-Penske front row

Next article

'Insane' Fontana race concerns IndyCar's Power, Montoya, Kanaan

'Insane' Fontana race concerns IndyCar's Power, Montoya, Kanaan
Load comments
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Plus

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets is now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
Why IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still far from over Plus

Why IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still far from over

OPINION: The 2021 IndyCar silly season has been one of the silliest for many years, as many talented drivers remain in play – with new pieces to the puzzle being added all the time. Here's what we know so far about who will end up where in 2022

IndyCar
Sep 15, 2021
Why IndyCar's generational shift isn't as stark as it appears Plus

Why IndyCar's generational shift isn't as stark as it appears

OPINION: The rise of two drivers racing only their second full-season IndyCar campaigns to head the points with four races to go has led to some observers doubting the credentials of the old guard. But they haven't faded away, there's merely a deeper talent pool that is helping to make this season one of the best in recent years

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Plus

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indycar rookie Plus

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indycar rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in Indycar for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular team-mate Mauro Martini's passion for racing

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The two key areas where Dixon needs to re-assert his authority Plus

The two key areas where Dixon needs to re-assert his authority

OPINION: Having been Chip Ganassi Racing's IndyCar focal point for the best part of a decade, Scott Dixon has been so far outgunned by new team-mate Alex Palou in 2021. After finishing behind the Spaniard at his traditional happy hunting ground at Mid-Ohio, Dixon has work to do to assume his traditional position in the team and the standings

IndyCar
Jul 6, 2021
The winners and losers of IndyCar 2021 so far Plus

The winners and losers of IndyCar 2021 so far

At the halfway point in the 2021 IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels?

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021