Graham Rahal was very upset with how his Indianapolis 500 ended. But, due to how strong that he has been on the streets of Belle Isle lately, it didn’t take him too long to look past his Indy crash with Sebastien Bourdais and look ahead to this weekend’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix (3 p.m. ET/NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network).
Rahal, swept both races on the streets of Belle Isle in 2017 and crashed while running in the top five of race No. 1 race year. In race No. 2, he brought his No. 15 Honda home fifth.
The Ohio native has five top five finishes in his last seven Belle Isle starts. He finished fourth on the last street course race of the season in Long Beach. He enters this weekend with three top 10 finishes in his last five starts on the season.
See why he’s so confident?
“Detroit has always been one of my favorites,” said Rahal. “It’s one of those races we get pumped up for and get excited to go to and be a part of. I’m excited to turn the page and get there. I think we’ll be pretty strong.
“I remember vividly coming to the race as a kid. It’s always been a great event but Mr. Penske, Bud Denker and everyone have done a great job. We came back and it was bumpy and since then, the paving job they have done is amazing. The restoration of the fountain and everything they have done has transformed the entire place.
“Between my dad winning the first race on Belle Isle (in 1992) and the almost-perfect weekend I had in 2017, Dad and I have a lot of pride in coming here. It’s probably the only place in my entire career that I can say that I have more wins at than my dad at any sort of venue, because he’s won everywhere else. Detroit is a special place for me. It will be a good weekend with the doubleheader races and a big opportunity to get some points and have a really strong run.”
His teammate Takuma Sato is too. Sato, has seven top 11 finishes in his last eight starts at Belle Isle. He was eighth and fourth respectively in 2017 and fifth and 17th respectively last year. He’s coming off of a third place finish at Indy too which propels him to a tie with Scott Dixon for fourth in the series standings. Sato, has four top eight finishes in his last five starts on the season.
“After the month of May, we get used to the speed and smoothness, then we go to one of the bumpiest tracks in the series,” said Sato. “But we love Detroit. I personally like Detroit and have some great memories with podiums and poles and the team has good history too, so this year I think we can come back much more competitive.
“I think last year we missed the little things. Hopefully this year we can carry great momentum after the month of May. It’s an important race for the rest of the season because last year everything started really hooking up after Detroit and we have been able to build on that. I would say our team is more comfortable with the street-course setup and is working better. The trend is still there this year. I think we will be in great shape.”
RLL is a sleeper organization to watch this weekend.