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Rahal bumped from Indy 500 field by team-mate Harvey

Graham Rahal has been bumped out of next weekend’s Indianapolis 500 field, after he qualified 34th for the 33 starting spots on Sunday.

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

Rahal was bumped from the field in the closing seconds of Sunday afternoon’s last-chance qualifying session by his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team-mate Jack Harvey by 0.0044s over the four-lap run. Harvey’s average speed of 229.166mph just pipped Rahal’s 229.159mph.

Rahal suffered a weightjacker failure during the session, but his first run was good enough for third behind team-mate Christian Lundgaard and Dale Coyne Racing’s rookie Sting Ray Robb.

Lundgaard set the pace in the one-hour session with a four-lap average around the fabled 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at 229.649mph. Robb went second quickest at 229.549mph, with Rahal in third on 229.159mph.

Harvey was well off the pace on his first run at 228.477mph and also had the slowest single-lap speed of 229.034mph. “I was just sliding around too much, very loose, I don’t know why we’ve dropped off so much,” he reported.

“The balance isn’t quite where we wanted,” his strategist Michael Armbrester told NBC Peacock. “We made a mechanical change to clear that up.”

Harvey ran again, first to first cool his Honda engine, and then rejoined the track for a final time attack run with 10 minutes remaining.

Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

But his car again lacked speed and, although he improved his four-lap average, his 228.929mph just wasn’t enough to bump Rahal Jr by 0.1580s. Harvey then tried a desperate third qualifying run in the final minutes of the session, and his 229.166mph was just enough to knock Rahal out.

“You can’t do anything, you can’t run again, you’re kind of stuck there,” an emotional Rahal told NBC Peacock. “Everybody puts a lot into this and we just came up short. I’m really surprised, with the heat-soak and stuff, that Jack could do that. But this place, it doesn’t come easy. It doesn’t just happen. And we weren’t good enough.

“We were the slowest of our cars on pace all week. You’ve got to be humble and gracious in victory and defeat.”

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Harvey said: “It’s been no secret it’s been a struggle, even the first two runs weren’t awesome. I hate that it was us who bumped Graham out. The hope was that all three of our cars would make it, but I’m grateful to be in this race, it’s such a privilege to have another shot and compete.”

Rahal’s team won the race in 2020 with Takuma Sato, and Bobby’s son Graham showed frontrunning pace in 2021, but its cars will start 30th, 31st and 33rd with Graham watching from the sidelines.

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