Starting off on Sunday morning on the streets of Toronto has gone well for Graham Rahal as he battled hard all race long, finishing sixth in the first of two races that will be run today.
“A top six feels good,” Rahal commented. “We had a very solid race. I got a couple of guys on the start and then thankfully avoided the crash and really just stayed out of trouble. I made a few passes throughout the race but I think the key was to stay out of trouble and got a top six. Obviously we would like to continue to push the National Guard car forward, but we’ll take it.”
Rahal has done well at Exhibiton Palce before, posting a fifth place in 2010, and it’s a track that he enjoys with it being in Toronto’s downtown core, being bumpy and having a lot of history. He also sees it as a challenge, with the bumps that are around the circuit.
“The bumps make it extremely challenging for sure, to know which ones to miss and know all the entrance spots, that’s the toughest thing,” he commented.
For Rahal, the sixth place finish marks only his third top-10 of the season as the year hasn’t gone according to plan.
“Season has been tough,” he admitted. “We’ve been fast in a lot of places, we’ve had a lot of bad luck, but you just got to keep your head up, keep pushing hard, keep working hard and I think we’ll just fine.”
Though getting down and frustrated along the way hasn’t been an option as Rahal says it’s simply his job to continue to run well.
“This is my job. My job is to be here and do as well as I can day in, day out,” he commented. “You don’t have a choice to stay motivated and continue to work hard. It’s easy to hang your head and walk away at times, but we’re here to make the National Guard proud and to do a great job and there’s nothing you can do but stay motivated.”
Part of the movitation comes from having the National Guard as a sponsor as they moved over to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing over the off-season.
“Being an American, it’s a really cool thing,” Rahal said. “It’s a really cool opportunity. We haven’t done as well as we would’ve liked, but we’ve shown some speed. Certainly want to continue to work in that path for them and do as good as a job as we can. to wear red, white and blue feels truly fortunate that I have the opportunity.”
The confidence is also there stemming from a second place finish earlier this year on the streets of Detroit.
“We’ve been extremely quick on street courses, perticularly on raceday, but then again it’s a total different track,” he commented. “You’re always trying to figure it out, running as much as you can – it’s a challenge. It’s definitely a challenge to get it all right, but I think our pace gives us the most confidence.”
With a solid finish under him, Rahal now prepares for the second race this afternoon in looking for another good finish.
“It’s tough. It’s very tough,” Rahal said of the double headers on Friday. “You have to be rested, hydrated, you got to have strong elbows from bnanging around the cockpit and you have to understand that double header weekend is double the points so there’s a lot of points in two days to get so it’s tough. It’s very physical. It wears you out; everybody sleeps well Saturday and Sunday night, that’s for sure.”
For only being 25-years-old, Rahal has been racing at the top level of open-wheel racing since the age of 18 after getting started in go-karts at the age of 10, wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps. Being the son of Bobby Rahal, there is sometimes the added pressure, but Graham says that he doesn’t feel that right now.
“Certainly there’s a lot of fans that push against me and starting to hear a lot about it, my last name and different things,” Rahal said. “That’s an example that they won’t do to many others. Certainly, I feel like my job is to go out and do the best that I can no matter what.”