Caution Foiled Rahal's Three-Stop Strategy, Finished 10th

GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Mi-Jack Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "If the yellow hadn't come out, we were sitting beautifully. I think there was only a few of us that were going to be able to actually make it in three stops. We were average but better than those we were around but we couldn't get track position. We couldn't get track position through strategy and we couldn't get track position on track by passing so we were kind of stuck behind Takuma and Spencer, who we were definitely better than, but there was nothing we could do. Then the yellow came out and really hurt us. We just tried to salvage our strategy and to do that last run that long, the fuel number we had to get was so extreme that I couldn't keep up with the pack. It's frustrating."

· FAST FACTS: Started seventh in the race which immediately went yellow for a crash by Bourdais. On the restart, he reported a big wiggle that forced him to lift and he lost three spots to run 10th. He was passed a few laps later by Veach. Once those who were on a four-stop strategy began to pit he cycled up to second place by Lap 62/248 before he made his first stop on Lap 63 on a three-stop strategy. He returned to the track in 13th and was up to P10 on Lap 114. On Lap 116, he was told he could use more fuel to pass Hinchcliffe, who had a pack backed up behind him. A driver dive bombed him in Turn 1 and a few cars passed him including his teammate Sato. As the next pit cycle started he moved up to second place by Lap 123 before he made his second stop on Lap 126. Other than Sato, who pit a lap later, he was looking on target for at least a podium finish if the race stayed green. He returned to the track in 15th place, took over 14th after passing Hinchcliffe, and then cycled up as others pit. He was in 11th place on Lap 173 when Hunter-Reay slowed on track right after a pit stop and brought out a 10-lap caution between Laps 173-182. His three-stop strategy meant a slower pace and he had dropped a lap down. Once he was given the pass around to get back on the lead lap, he pit on Lap 181 and was now on the same strategy as the field without the advantage the previous strategy afforded. The race restarted and the team elected to try to salvage the strategy by saving fuel. He held ninth place but was passed by Ed Jones, who had pit on Lap 226 and was able to use full power without saving fuel. He held 10th place until the checkered flag. Was his second Indy car race here…. In 2017, he started 13th but during the pace laps, Kanaan spun and Rahal moved into 12th before the green. Once the race started, pole sitter Will Power spun and collected Carpenter and Sato to move Rahal into ninth place. He was able to stay out longer than a few cars and cycled into fifth before his first stop on Lap 61 of 248. He returned to the track in eighth place and held the position until his second stop on Lap 104 during a full course caution for JR Hildebrand. After the restart he passed Ryan Hunter-Reay for seventh on Lap 113. He held the spot until the next pit cycle approached and took over sixth place when Rossi pit before he made his third stop on Lap 158. He returned to the race in sixth place and held it through a full course caution for Chilton who spun. He passed Hinchcliffe for fifth on Lap 183 when the Canadian had to check up behind Dixon and Rahal got around him. During his fourth and final stop under caution for Hunter-Reay who hit the wall, Rahal pitted from fifth place but left the pit with the fuel probe still attached to the car. At the start of the race, telemetry showed that the fuel probe sensor wasn't working so the team had to take extra precautions for the stops. The probe sensor ensures that the car cannot go into gear to depart until the fuel nozzle is out of the car. Race control ruled that Rahal had to go to the back of the field due to the incident and he moved back to 14th place. He passed Andretti on the restart and later passed Jones for 12th, which he held until the checkered flag… His top finish this season is second at St. Pete and top start is fifth at Long Beach… Rahal is eighth in series point standings with a total of 371, 50 points behind fifth place Ryan Hunter-Reay.