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Mid-Ohio IndyCar: Graham Rahal gains on Juan Pablo Montoya with win

Graham Rahal blasted the IndyCar title fight wide open with a hometown win at Mid-Ohio on Sunday

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver saw off a brief challenge from Andretti Autosport's Justin Wilson on a restart with seven laps to go, and coasted away to secure the victory.

He picked up an extra point on the final lap for most laps led, bringing him to within just nine points of Juan Pablo Montoya with two races remaining.

"Honestly, for me, other than the Indy 500 this is the biggest race of the year," Rahal said.

"To get this victory at a time when we really needed it ... man, I don't know what to say. This means more than my first win. This is everything."

Wilson held on for second to secure a one-two for Honda, leaving Penske's Simon Pagenaud to round out the podium.

The tone of the race was set by the timing of the yellows. Polesitter Scott Dixon held command during the first stint, only to be short-changed when the second caution period fell right before he was due to make his first stop.

That dropped him back into the pack, but was a huge boost for Montoya and Rahal, who had both made their stops right before the yellow and were cycled up to the front. Dixon would have to settle for fourth.

From there, Montoya maintained control of the middle phase of the race, and was preparing to make his final stop when Ganassi's Sage Karam spun all by himself and brought out another caution.

This time, yellow flags were the last thing that Montoya wanted to see. Rahal and Dixon had already pitted, and he'd just been preparing to come in.

Indeed, both the nature and the timing of Karam's spin have prompted a post-race investigation by IndyCar officials.

The stop under yellows dropped Montoya to the outer fringes of the top 10, and his aversion to risking further damage to his points buffer took the sting out of his defending during the final laps, leaving him 11th.

Further back, a lot of the day's action involved Charlie Kimball, who went into the grass on three separate occasions following contact with Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Stefano Coletti respectively.

RESULTS - 90 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 1h55m20.0864s
2 Justin Wilson Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 3.4049s
3 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 4.5706s
4 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 5.0293s
5 Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 10.5943s
6 Tristan Vautier Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 11.4414s
7 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 13.8958s
8 Jack Hawksworth AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda 15.0372s
9 Carlos Munoz Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 15.6116s
10 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 16.0094s
11 Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 16.1321s
12 Gabby Chaves Bryan Herta Autosport Dallara/Honda 16.4962s
13 Josef Newgarden CFH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 18.0350s
14 Will Power Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 18.4290s
15 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 19.1285s
16 James Jakes Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 20.1010s
17 Sebastien Bourdais KVSH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 20.5091s
18 Ryan Briscoe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 20.8331s
19 Stefano Coletti KV Racing Technology Dallara/Chevrolet 21.5426s
20 Rodolfo Gonzalez Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 24.9667s
21 Luca Filippi CFH Racing Dallara/Chevrolet Spun off
22 Sage Karam Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 1 Lap
23 Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 3 Laps
24 Takuma Sato AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Honda Contact

LEADING CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Juan Pablo Montoya 465
2 Graham Rahal 456
3 Scott Dixon 431
4 Helio Castroneves 407
5 Will Power 406
6 Sebastien Bourdais 379
7 Marco Andretti 378
8 Josef Newgarden 370
9 Tony Kanaan 354
10 Simon Pagenaud 329
11 Ryan Hunter-Reay 304
12 Carlos Munoz 303
13 Charlie Kimball 282
14 Takuma Sato 246
15 Gabby Chaves 229
16 James Jakes 227
17 Jack Hawksworth 226
18 Sage Karam 180
19 Stefano Coletti 171
20 Luca Filippi 170
21 Tristan Vautier 152
22 James Hinchcliffe 129
23 Ryan Briscoe 120
24 Justin Wilson 92
25 Conor Daly 81
26 Ed Carpenter 75
27 Simona de Silvestro 66
28 Sebastian Saavedra 61
29 Pippa Mann 59
30 J.R. Hildebrand 57

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