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IndyCar Long Beach: Rahal explains Pagenaud start crash, takes blame

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal has explained his crash with Simon Pagenaud at the start of IndyCar's Long Beach race and has accepted blame for it

Their collision came approaching the first corner, when Rahal hit the rear of Pagenaud's car on the long run into the tight Turn 1 left-hander as they battled for third, pitching the Penske driver into the outside wall and ending his race with rear suspension damage.

The RLLR driver recovered to fifth at the flag after serving a drivethrough penalty for avoidable contact.

Rahal compared the incident to his collision with Spencer Pigot at St Petersburg in the season-opening race when he was chasing the Ed Carpenter Racing driver into the large braking zone for Turn 1.

"I'm sorry about what happened to Simon," said Rahal. "That's not how I like to do things.

"It's just like St Pete, the rears [tyres] locked up and I barely made the corner.

"I think [Scott] Dixon bailed out because he thought I wasn't going to make it.

"It hurt my race, too, getting the penalty, having to go to the back and battle our way through.

"I think we had a car that could have had a shot at [race winner Alexander] Rossi today. We made some changes for the race and the car was fantastic.

"I'm really disappointed in myself and disappointed in the way that it all began, but I'm proud of the team for the way that it finished.

"We made a lot of passes today. I passed more cars here today that I have in a long time. We had a lot of fun, but we want to win.

"It's a good start to the year. To be third [in the points] and finish all the laps so far and finish in the top five a couple of times and get a podium so far is good, but this was our best weekend yet.

"We deserved to be there this weekend and that's why it's a little bittersweet."

Pagenaud has had a difficult start to the season and is 16th in the standings with just 44 points, meaning he trails series leader and Andretti Autosport driver Rossi by 88 points.

The 2016 champion was critical of Rahal's driving into the first corner.

"[It was a] terrible day," he said. "We didn't even make one corner.

"We had a really good start, blocked the run, I went to the outside and we had a good braking point.

"We were going to be three-wide and I was three-wide on the outside.

"It's not like I went on the brake early, Rahal forgot to brake. It was a shame, we had such a competitive and fast car all weekend."

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