FORT WORTH, TX — Graham Rahal wanted to win Sunday’s XPEL 375. He came close but it wasn’t enough. Rahal, brought his No. 15 Honda home third though for his 32nd career podium in 229 career starts. It was also his 59th top five too including two straight this weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway.
“Solid day,” Rahal said. “I think last two stints I got just way too loose. But before that, I thought we did an excellent job. The guys, one heck of a pit stop there on the second-to-last stop, which really got us into, what, from fifth to third. From there I thought we could attack pretty hard. Great work by them.
“The car was solid in both races. Like I said, today I just got a bit loose. I think when I was trying to chase down Josef there in the end, or Pato for that matter, before he got by, I was just kind of hanging on. I think Dixie was the same behind me. Seemed he couldn’t really make too much headway.
“Tricky days. It was kind of fun. It’s a big challenge out there. It’s totally different than what it used to be. If you can get the car set up, adjust your tools right, get it in the right zone, it’s pretty rewarding.
“Good fun. Wish we could have done a little better. Third, first podium of the year, is pretty awesome.”
Rahal, noted that he just didn’t have enough in the end to win. His car wasn’t there to do so. It was close, just not good enough to earn his first win since 2017.
Still, a third place run was a solid day. It moved from 13th in points leaving St. Pete to being fifth now. That’s due to him finishing 15th on the street course last weekend which is why he says that the race will sting them for a while. He felt like he had top five pace on the Florida street circuit and if he could have finished where he deserved, he feels like he would be maybe as high as second in points heading to Indy.
Still, this was a great weekend for him as the momentum is high going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Rahal, also has been fantastic at Texas lately. This was his sixth top six in his last seven starts on the 1.44-mile track. He had just one in his previous eight tries.
“Yeah, it was awesome, man,” Rahal said of his No. 15 Honda this weekend. “It was quick. She was racy the last two days. It’s good to race with good guys like Josef yesterday, Dixie, Pato, guys that respect each other, give each other room. It’s nice. It’s refreshing.
“I thought today was a good improvement for us over yesterday. Like I said, when I got to the front, second-to-last stint, first off you had the fuel saving as Josef said, which kind of ruined it, for me just got super loose for some reason the last two stints, really lost some of my mojo to be able to push hard.
“The boys did an excellent job, kept our heads down. We’re excited for May. We had a fast car at the test. Obviously have the GP before. This is good momentum for us. Just a good, solid weekend, come out of here with two top fives.”