DETROIT – It has been six years since Graham Rahal’s first career IndyCar win at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in 2008.
He’ll have to wait a little longer for that elusive second victory after Will Power of Australia held off the hard-charging son of team owner Bobby Rahal in Saturday’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Verizon IndyCar Series race.
It’s the first race of a weekend doubleheader with another 70-lap contest Sunday at 3:50 p.m. E.T.
Power scored his second win of the season when he defeated Rahal by .3308-second. It was the 23rd IndyCar Series victory of his career, which ties him with Tommy Milton for 18th on the all-time win list.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won last Sunday’s 98th Indianapolis 500, ended the race by stuffing his Honda into a tire barrier in turn seven on the final lap. He started near the back of field after he brushed the wall in Saturday morning’s qualification session. He finished 16th.
Power has not finished worse than eighth in any race this season and has cut Hunter-Reay’s points lead to three entering Sunday’s second race of the doubleheader.
“It’s been kind of an uneventful year, keeping out of trouble, going about my business,” Power said. “We just had good, solid results each weekend. To come from 16th to win was unexpected. But the team put me in a position to do that.”
In the closing stages of the race, Power admitted concern with the fast-charting Rahal rapidly closing on his Team Verizon Chevrolet.
“Every time I backed off a little bit, I knew Graham was quick,” Power said. “There was no way if he got by me I’d get back by him. I know he’s one of the best guys in the paddock on restarts. I had my work cut out for me.”
Rahal has had a miserable season and his chance at a victory was just the boost that he needed to give his team and himself the confidence they can compete for victories.
“When you show up and you’re competitive, it’s a hell of a lot easier,” Rahal said. “When you come to the race weekend, your first practice you’re 20th, then you gotta find a second, that’s almost impossible. If you show up and have to find a 10th of a second, that’s a lot easier.
“I’ll be the first to say I’m not the best qualifier. I felt even today I didn’t quite get everything that I should have to advance in the top six, which I should have. But I know that I can race pretty well. My guys just felt confident with all those things being said that we could get the car to the front. Of course, great pit stops today, strategy, hopefully passing some guys.
“To start, we went forward very quickly. Then I found myself back in 13th after a tough stint on reds. I felt confident I could pass everybody again. Tony Kanaan helped more than you could know. When we were running together, going as fast as we were, we got the gap to take us instantly to the front. That made a huge difference today.”
Finishing behind the winner’s Chevrolet and Rahal’s Honda was Tony Kanaan’s Chevy, Justin Wilson in a Honda and two-time Detroit winner Helio Castroneves in a Chevrolet.