Rahal hungry for winless slump to end

In contention again. No. 15 Graham Rahal battles Justin Wilson and Ryan Hunter-Reay in Iowa

Graham Rahal wasn't pleased with his fifth-place finish Sunday in the Iowa Corn Indy 250. Then again, he was.

Consider the context.

For much of the season, Rahal hasn't performed up to his potential, his ability or his past. In his first year with his dad's team, rare has been the top-10 finish. But after a rousing ride through Saturday's heat races and a 10th-to-second run late in Sunday's race, he was at once pleased and disappointed.

Pleased because he was competitive, disappointed with a late-race slide from second to fifth.

"Dad said last night, 'Hey, let's get a top-five,' " Rahal said. "I said, 'Dad, I'm not here to get a top-five. To get one feels good, but you know me. I haven't won in six years. It's frustrating to me.' We did a great job, there's no doubt."

The expectations of the much-heralded teaming of father with son reached a peak in the second race of the IZOD IndyCar Series season, when Rahal finished second at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Since then, he hasn't finished better than ninth.

But a top-five finish Sunday at Iowa signaled that the 24-year-old with the famous racing surname is back. Depending on who is doing the critique, of course.

"It wasn't that he ever lost it," said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. "We were the ones who never gave him a car. I don't care who you are, if the car isn't right, especially on an oval, you're not going to do well. We've been the ones letting him down, not him us."

Expectation has been chasing Graham Rahal since he entered the IndyCar scene in 2008 as a 19-year-old rookie. That tends to happen when your dad is the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and a three-time champion with 24 career victories. It started well enough, with a victory in his very first race at St. Petersburg, Fla. More at USA Today

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