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Rahal “can’t believe” Honda allowed him to race a Chevy in Indy 500

Graham Rahal, whose Indianapolis 500 shot has been resurrected by the unfortunate injury to Stefan Wilson, says he “can’t believe” a deal was struck with Dreyer and Reinbold.

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda consoles his crew after being bumped from the field

Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Speaking during the announcement at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday that he will drive the #24 Cusick Motorsports entry, which is run by the D&R squad, Rahal paid tribute to team owner Dennis Reinbold, his father Bobby (who runs Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) and engine suppliers Honda and Chevrolet.

Rahal has raced with Honda power for years but will now switch over to the Chevy-powered D&R after agreements were reached with both engine suppliers and his sponsors.

He had failed to qualify for the 500 after his own RLL team-mate Jack Harvey bumped him in the dying moments of last-chance qualifying on Sunday.

“When Dennis called me, I said ‘I don’t wanna waste your time, it’s probably best if you just speak to dad’,” said Rahal Jr.

“While I was very appreciative, I knew the hurdles were going to be massive. This wasn’t as easy as me saying ‘yes’.

“We were sat together at 10:30 last night and said to ourselves ‘I can’t believe this actually happened’ – that Honda and Chevy both allowed this to happen.

Stefan Wilson, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet, crash

Stefan Wilson, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet, crash

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

“I knew the challenges were far greater than me, I knew I had to step aside because, contractually, I don’t know what’s between RLL and Honda and all our partners.

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“I know [Reinbold] is a high-class individual, and I know he and dad worked things out right away. I’m surprised, but it was certainly exciting for me when I found out late last night that we could make this happen.”

Rahal said he felt “compelled” to take up the offer to replace Wilson, who suffered a fractured vertebra in a crash on Monday, having partnered his late brother Justin at Newman/Haas Racing in 2008. He has previously made one start for Dreyer & Reinbold, at Iowa in 2010.

“If it had been something different, I’m not sure how compelled I would’ve been,” said Rahal of his decision.

“Particularly after the last couple of days, trust me, it’s a bittersweet moment to think ‘do I do it, do I not, is it appropriate?’ In this circumstance it felt right.

“I can’t thank Honda and Chevy enough and all the sponsors, it’s been a tough week for them, to release me to come over here. I’m super grateful.”

When asked to explain what the talks between the teams, Honda and Chevrolet were like, Reinbold said: “I had discussions with the Chevy guys to get their feel for it, and Bobby took over the Honda discussions, as well.

“We just kind of went off on our separate paths with this goal in mind to explore and to see if it was possible. They came back, and a couple hurdles later that we crossed, it started looking good.

“We kept crossing off things on our checklist that had to happen for this to be a possibility. There were a lot of things involved, and we spent a lot of time yesterday and into last night going through those things.”

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