Graham Rahal’s hopes for a third straight win on the streets of Belle Isle ended with a heavy crash after a bounce off the Turn 13 curb at sent him into the outside wall.
Rahal had started eighth and was the only driver to start on blacks. He led two laps and has been running second before pounding the wall on lap 47. He immediately radioed to his crew that “I don’t know what happened, that hurt like a mother****er.”
“I’m OK,” said Rahal, who finished 23rd. “It was about the worst hit you could take around here. I think the car did its job. Obviously, we were going to finish third, at worst, and it looks like a lot of our competitors are struggling today.
“I’m disappointed in myself. We’ve got to go back and look at what happened. I just lost it before I even really turned in. I don’t really know what happened. It was shaping up pretty good for the United Rentals team so it’s disappointing. We were the only ones that were bold enough to [start with Firestone blacks], but it put us in a good spot in the race and then we could manage the pace from there. On the red, it was certainly ugly for me. It was a handful to hang on there, but it was my out lap on the last set there when I lost it and I’m not really sure what happened.
“It was feeling OK. We just decided to try something different, get off strategy there and it worked. In my head, I had it all played out where I felt like if I could start on blacks, I could hold off others the first few laps so that I could make my way through the guys and it worked out.”
Rahal will have another shot when qualifying for Race 2 begins at 10:45 a.m. ET.