Rahal slams Danica/IndyCar over dust up
Scott Dixon got a much-needed win to start his charge to championship contention as he drove to an easy victory in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. But further back in the pack, the three drivers at Team Penske were distraught after playing the right pit strategy only to get hosed when the pits were closed on the final caution.
And even further back, Graham Rahal lit into Danica Patrick after the two were involved in an incident in the “Keyhole” section of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course that led to Rahal’s car stalled off course. Once he returned to the race he was able to catch up to the back of Patrick’s car and admitted he thought about punting her off course.
“I fully thought about it and I could have done it. I could have easily retaliated,” Rahal said. “But it’s not me. I won’t do that to anybody but I will tell you I was very upset. I don’t understand why people are driving like this.”
Rahal started sixth and finished 24th while Patrick finished 21st.
When asked if he wanted to talk to Patrick, Rahal shot back, “She won’t be around next year anyway. We might as well move on. What do you say to her? This is Danica’s Racing League right now. She’s not going to get a penalty. Look at where the tire mark is on her car. I’m sorry but as long as it goes this way it’s not going to work out.
“As long as people are driving like this our luck is never going to change because it seems like we are the target all the time,” Rahal continued. “Someone said Danica had position on me but position is not left-front to right rear. That is not position but go figure she doesn’t get a penalty. I’m not surprised. With the officiating here I’m not surprised. I don’t know why but every weekend it is me. We had a very fast car today. I’m just frustrated as all get-out.”
Rahal’s race was cast during an earlier incident when he pitted during the first pit stop after Sebastian Saavedra crashed in the tire barrier in Turn 2. Rahal was about to leave his pit when James Jakes crossed in front of him trying to get into his pit area. Rahal stalled the car and went all the way back to 21st.
“It’s a shame for this car because we were fifth or sixth the whole first stint getting better fuel mileage than all the other guys,” Rahal said. “I was saving a ton of fuel and it’s a shame we had to pit under yellow and James Jakes was pitting in front of us and we knew that was going to hurt us. Spot on it was him and that lost us the race.”
Patrick had one of the most forgettable weekends of her IndyCar career. But after all the disappointment she gamely came out to meet a group of young fans that wanted her autograph and picture. One teenage boy even said, “I need a hug.” And Patrick turned around and gave the kid a big hug.
Actually, Patrick probably needed the hug as much as the teenage boy.
“He was coming out of the pits and I was right behind Sebastien Bourdais and there wasn’t enough room for him to get in and neither of us gave up,” Patrick recalled. “He can be vocal. That’s all right. He has freedom of speech and can say whatever he wants. I’ve been penalized before but from my perspective it felt like I had the position but that is why we race. We all want those spots. I think he is entitled to his opinion but I want to see it before I make further comment.”
Patrick has pretty much fallen out of favor in the IZOD IndyCar Series because even team owner Michael Andretti expects her to leave for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the season.
“She’s probably gone but it’s not definite,” Andretti said earlier Sunday morning. RPM2Night