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Rahal Bumped from Indianapolis 500 Nearly 30 Year After Father Missed Field

Graham Rahal reflects on missing the 107th Indianapolis 500. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Graham Rahal reflects on missing the 107th Indianapolis 500. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Strapping in to the race car and running in the Indianapolis 500 is a crowning moment for many race car drivers while winning it is a career maker. But, before you can get into the field of 33, you must qualify.

With a field of 34 cars, one must go home. In a repeat of 30 years ago, a Rahal will watch from home.

Sunday’s last chance qualifier saw four drivers battling for one spot. Ultimately, Graham Rahal would miss out to his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Jack Harvey.

Down to the final 10 minutes, Rahal had a weight jacker issue, tallying a four-lap average of 229.159 mph. While it was nothing that the team was celebrating, it was over 0.68mph clear of Harvey.

That lap left him well short of Sting Ray Robb, but it left RLL team in a challenging position. If Harvey was to improve significantly, he would bump out Rahal. By making a second attempt, it meant Harvey relinquished his first time.

No one was going to blink unless Harvey, the man with nothing to lose, went out.

Harvey made a 170 mph run on old tires to drive air through the engine and remove the power sapping heat soak that all IndyCar machines suffer while sitting on pitlane. Then, he made his second qualifying attempt with less than a minute to go, leaving Rahal in a precarious spot.

The 30-year-old from Bassingham, Lincolnshire, UK delivered two laps of 229.435mph and 229.082mph, which did not look good. Suddenly, Harvey tallied remarkable speed on Laps 3 and 4 respectively of 229.176 mph and a 228.971 mph.

It was enough to beat Rahal out of the 107th Indy 500 by just 0.07 mph.

Rahal would get out of the car, hug all of his team members and his father, Bobby, and fulfilled his media obligations like a champion.

Moreover, Rahal told NBC’s Marty Snider that sitting in the car, knowing there was nothing he could was “the difficult part of this.” The emotions were evident in Rahal’s voice as he described the feeling of missing the Indy 500.

“As I told the guys, you just have to be positive. Everybody puts a lot in to this and we just came up short,” Rahal said. “I was really surprised with the heat soak that Harvey did that it would help.”

Bobby Rahal watches his son miss the Indy 500 30 years after his unfortunate miss. (Photo: Luis Torres | TPF)

Bobby Rahal watches his son miss the Indianapolis 500 nearly 30 years after his unfortunate miss. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

The Rahals know the challenges that Indianapolis presents, particularly with the good and the bad.

“It doesn’t come easy, and it doesn’t just happen, and we weren’t good enough,” he said.

Graham Rahal's wife, Courtney Force, consoles him after missing the Indy 500. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Graham Rahal’s wife, Courtney Force, consoles him after missing the Indy 500. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

From the drop of the green flag last Saturday in the GMR Grand Prix, through the first week of practice and both days of qualifying, Rahal was the slowest of their four cars.

“We were the slowest of our cars on pure pace, but you just have to stay positive, and you have to stay humble and gracious in victory and defeat. There’s always next year,” he said.

The emotions would hit quickly as Rahal reflected further on his humbling moment.

“I knew from the start (of) this week that we were in trouble,” he said.

Not long after, Rahal would break down and walk away to compose himself and take in the unfortunate moment of being the lone driver who failed to make the 107th Indianapolis 500, a race that has meant so much to his family through the years.

No driver wants to work as hard as these teams do to make the 500, but they all know the stress that comes with it. Many of Rahal’s competitors took to social media to share positive thoughts and heartbreak for the longtime IndyCar competitor.

Nick Yeoman, a member of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, posted what many have thought for years and continue to wonder why 33 is the number for the Indianapolis 500 field.

Rahal’s heartbreak occurs nearly 30 years to the day that his father missed the 500. This kind of drama does not write itself.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway does.

Rahal hugged his daughters and walked away with his head held high along with his entire family knowing that racing hits hard one week and picks back right back up the next. For now, a difference of 0.07 mph will haunt the Rahal team for the next 365 days.

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera. I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University. I have hosted multiple Motorsports talk shows, worked in Country Music radio, and now i spend every day on the air in the morning with 1300 and 100.9 WMVO and in the afternoons watching the roadways around Central Ohio for 93.7 WQIO. The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting 15 years having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and you can find me at pretty much any event run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth. Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras. My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports. See you at a track soon

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