INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - Graham Rahal emerged from his car, drenched in sweat and checking the blisters on his hands. Then he turned his attention to what might have been and what could be in the future.
Rahal drove from 20th to sixth place Saturday in the INDYCAR Grand Prix, his best finish this season. Without the subpar qualifying effort Friday, he knows he could've finished much better.
"We had a car to win this race; I guarantee you that," Rahal said. "It's disappointing starting where we started because we put ourselves in that hole."
During the second half of the 85-lap race, Rahal fought through painful blisters on his hands. The cause, Rahal said, was the stitching in a new type of glove.
"It took a lot out of my hands," Rahal said. "That was the biggest thing. I was fighting my hands for about the last 30 or 40 laps or so. I normally don't get this sort of thing, so I was frustrated to kind of claw through it. But you've got to get through the end."
Once he and his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team get qualifying sorted out, Rahal expects to start winning races.
"It's good and bad," he said. "I take great pride in my race craft on Sundays, but you better believe I wish my job were a little easier than that."
Five races into the season, Rahal is mired in 13th place in the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers' standings, 101 points behind leader Simon Pagenaud. His season had been a collection of disappointing finishes - the previous best being a 10th at Long Beach - until Saturday's promising effort.
The issue of straightaway speed - or lack thereof - continues to hamper the No. 15 Honda. Data showed Rahal was impressive through the turns, but lost ground on the long straights of the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course.
"Our car is really slow on the straights, and we're more trimmed out that a lot of cars," he said. "It's something we've got to look at."
Despite the disappointment of a sixth-place finish, Rahal stressed the positive. He gained 14 positions over 85 uninterrupted laps on a venue not for an abundance of passing zones.
"I feel like what we saw here was what this team is capable all of the time," Rahal said. "People think I make excuses all the time, but the truth of the matter is that this hasn't been an easy year. Everything that could go against us has gone against us. Every weekend, we're trying to claw our way back out of a hole. (Saturday,) things finally went the way they should."
Rahal, along with the rest of the field, turns attention to the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with practice starting today. Live video streaming is available to RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
For more information about Honda Racing, visit http://hpd.honda.com/.