Graham Rahal continued his run as Honda’s top performer in the Verizon IndyCar Series, scoring his sixth top-10 finish of the 2015 season Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto, and maintaining his hold on fifth in the drivers’ championship after 10 of 16 races.
Starting 10th on a damp track after early-morning showers blanketed the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place downtown street circuit, Rahal fought Helio Castroneves in an entertaining early-lap battle. Rahal then solidified his hold on 10th place, running just behind fellow Honda driver Takuma Sato through the middle stages of the 85-lap contest. Following the last round of pit stops on Lap 56, Rahal forced his way past both Sato and Simon Pagenaud to move into ninth, where he finished. Sato went on to take the checkers in 10th, in another competitive temporary street-circuit outing for the A.J. Foyt Racing driver.
Carlos Munoz, winner of the Saturday race in Detroit two weeks ago, jumped from 13th on the grid to third on Lap 28, when a caution flag came out just after he and eventual race winner Josef Newgarden had made their second scheduled pit stops. But his chances for victory ended on Lap 69, while running second, when his Andretti Autosport machine lost power and was forced to retire.
Clever pit strategy from Dale Coyne Racing also saw rookie Rodolfo Gonzalez lead five laps, until he was forced to make his final stop on Lap 72; while a late-race charge from another rookie, Conor Daly, saw the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver finish 12th, following up on a sixth-place finish in Sunday’s race at Detroit.
Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda) started 10th, finished 9th: “I was pleased with the car’s performance, but it’s just not quick enough everywhere. We’ve just got to work on it. I think we found some things this weekend that will help us going forward, but it’s just frustrating to put all the effort in that we are and to finish ninth. I feel like we deserve better than this but we’re going to keep trying hard. I was either stuck in traffic, trying to get by Sato and getting blocked or cruising behind Dixon. It was frustrating. We would have liked to get the car further up there but that was the best we had today.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “There has been considerable effort placed on multiple fronts by HPD and our teams to address the current performance gap to our competitor. We’ve managed to close that gap somewhat, but with the extremely competitive field in the IndyCar Series, being even a little bit off the pace can have a dramatic impact on your finishing position. This is a challenging time for Honda and its teams. However, we will continue the search for improvements at each remaining event on the IndyCar Series schedule.”