Rahal takes the high road after Indy qualifying heartbreak

Phillip Abbott/Lumen

Rahal takes the high road after Indy qualifying heartbreak


Rahal takes the high road after Indy qualifying heartbreak


Graham Rahal undid his safety belts, disconnected the various tubes and cables attached to his racing suit and helmet, and stepped from his car into a new and unwelcome reality.

For the second time in his family’s history, Rahal’s participation in the Indianapolis 500 came to an end before Carb Day, before “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” and before he was ready to accept membership to a club he never wanted to join.

Heartbroken, he took time to thank his entire team because that’s what leaders do. And then it was time to deal with the upswell of emotions.

Walking around to the right side of his No. 15 Honda, his tousled hair slightly astray, Rahal put his head in his hands and cried, releasing weeks of worry and disappointment in a few private moments before cameras descended upon him. Rahal’s wife Courtney arrived and brought love and consolation to her husband. With his daughter in sight, he lifted her to his chest and held her tight as more tears flowed.

Marshall Pruett image

The prodigal son, an IndyCar race winner in his teens, met the same fate as his father at the 1993 Indy 500. Bumped by teammate Jack Harvey, who he recruited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Rahal walked over and embraced his friend and was consoled by Harvey, who dealt with conflicting feelings of guilt and joy.

The Speedway, in all of its cruel and giving and torturous ways, left a permanent mark on both men this Sunday.

“As I said to these guys, you’ve just got to be positive,” Rahal said. “And everybody puts a lot into this; we just came up short. This place, it doesn’t come easy. It doesn’t just happen. And we weren’t good enough. You know, we were the slowest of our cars, just on pure pace, all week. It’s unfortunate that happens, but, you know, you’ve got to be positive. You’ve got to be humble and gracious in victory and defeat.”

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