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

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