A valiant charge by Graham Rahal in the final 18 laps came up just short of victory Sunday at The Milwaukee Mile, as the Honda-powered driver finished third at the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250, his fifth podium finish of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series.
Following his victory two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway in California, Rahal started sixth in today’s first short-oval race of the season, and ran in the lead pack through much of the 250-lap contest, including five laps led. But starting on Lap 114, two cautions in rapid succession led to multiple pit strategies being employed throughout the field. As a result, Rahal and Helio Castroneves were among the last to make their final stops on Lap 225.
When the green flag waved for the final time on Lap 232, both rapidly made their way towards the front, passing the cars of Ed Carpenter and series points leader Juan Pablo Montoya. But Rahal was unable to pass Castroneves in the closing laps, and neither could catch Sebastien Bourdais for the victory. Still, Rahal’s fifth podium finish of the season moved the Honda driver into a tie with Castroneves for third in the drivers’ championship, with four races remaining.
Marco Andretti continued his run of top-10 finishes, finishing eighth Sunday, and remains the only driver in the series to complete every race lap this season. Andretti had finished fifth or better in the four of the five races leading into Sunday’s event. Driving for Bryan Herta Autosport, Gabby Chaves finished 11th at Milwaukee to solidify his hold on Rookie of the Year honors, with a 47-point lead over Stefano Coletti as the series enters its stretch run.
The series now heads west to Iowa Speedway for the second of 2015’s two short oval races, the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway near Des Moines on Saturday, July 18.
Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda) started 6th, finished 3rd: “It’s been a great year and I have to thank all of our partners for that. We’ve had five podiums and got the monkey off our backs with the win two weeks ago. I’ve never finished in the top five in this championship, so I’m really focused on next weekend in Iowa. I think we’ll do well at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma. You’re only as good as your last race, so we need to keep it going. Honda did a great job with the fuel mileage today. It seemed like I was able to run several laps longer than anyone else, particularly during the first stint. It really helps when it comes to the end of the race and you know you don’t have to worry about fuel. The Honda was very, very competitive today. They’ve done an excellent job.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “It was an exciting, and interesting, race on a challenging track where the conditions were constantly changing. In the end, it came down to an 18-lap shootout. Congratulations to Graham [Rahal] on another excellent race and his fifth podium of the year. He’s making a strong run in the championship. Now we go to another short oval in Iowa, where we had a 1-2 finish in 2014 and would like nothing better than to repeat that result next week.”