Graham Rahal passed James Hinchcliffe on the final turn at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday evening, winning the Firestone 600. Furthermore it the fifth-closest margin in Verizon IndyCar Series history. Grahm Rahal’s margin of victory was 0.008 seconds, which was the closest in the track’s history. The contest was supposed to be ran on June 11th but was postponed due to in-climate weather conditions after 71 laps.
James Hinchcliffe led 188 of the 248 laps turned but had to play second fiddle to Graham Rahal. Tony Kanaan also came in a respectable third. In addition, the Verizon IndyCar Series’ points leader Simon Pagenaud finished fourth. As a result, the Frenchman holds the lead going into the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen next week. Helio Castroneves rounded out the top five in the fifth position.
Grahm Rahal captured his first victory of the year and also his first at this 1.5 mile oval. Grahm Rahal’s last win came at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in 2015. The victorious diver had an opportunity to claim a win here in 2012.
Unfortunately, the Rahal/Letterman racer was passed by Justin Wilson in the race’s final moments. Rahal said after his photo finish at Texas motor Speedway that he had Justin Wilson on his mind the last few laps. Wilson passed away on August 24th after being hit in the head by debris during a race at Pocono Raceway.
“Justin and I had a great battle here a few years ago, and he got me at the end and I kept thinking about him those last few laps, definitely pushing hard for him,” Graham Rahal said. “I miss that guy. He was also a great human being and also a helluva race car driver.”
Helio Castroneves and Ryan Hunter-Reay gave James Hinchcliffe all he could handle early on in the event. Nevertheless, both competitors fell back as the race continued on. As a result, Hinchcliffe was able to widen his lead even after a round in the pits due to worn out tires.
The contest stayed caution free until there was 36 laps remaining. Chip Gnassi Racing’s Scott Dixon spun after contact with Ed Carpenter’s hot-rod on the front-stretch. To make matters worse, Helio Castroneves also clipped the front of Dixon’s car, but was able to continue without any damage.
Scott Dixon clearly wasn’t thrilled after the contact with Ed with Carpenter. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar champion showed him a pair of middle fingers when he passed him by. Both drivers had a discussion after the incident but still seemed to disagree on what occurred. Carpenter said while watching the replay: “I don’t know what I can do there; it’s my corner.”
James Hinchcliffe and Ed Carpenter refused to enter the pits under the next caution. As a result, they started out front of the field when the race resumed with 28 circuits to go. Helio Castroneves guided his Penske Chevrolet way through the field to challenge the leader.
When Helio Castroneves finally reached the back of Ed Carpenter’s machine, Carpenter spun in Turn 4. The two competitors smacked into each other bringing out the third caution of the race. James Hinchcliffe remained in front of the pack when the event was re-started with only 19 laps to go. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long as the contest went under caution again. Mikhail Aleshin and Jack Hawksworth got together in Turn four bringing out the final yellow flag of the evening.
Finally, the stage was set for the most exciting racing of the 2016 season. The trio of James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal and Tony Kanaan battled it out on every lap. However, none of the speedsters were capable of making it past Hinchcliffe until the final go around. Rahal pulled an impressive move in the final turn of the Firestone 600 and passed Hinchcliffe for his trip to Victory Lane. After the gut wrenching defeat, Hinchcliffe also admitted that he was disappointed with the finish.
“Our pit stops were clean and our laps were also clean. We were also good in traffic and the car was just a rocket ship,” Hinchcliffe told NBCSN. “It was the yellows at the end that killed us. I think where we made it work today was the long runs. Congrats to Graham, that was a great race. TK is also one of the best guys to race with and I just hate it man, we led them all except the one that mattered and it’s tough to be this disappointed with our best finish of the season.”
Final Running Order for the Texas 600 at Texas Motor Speedway:
1. Graham Rahal
2. James Hinchcliffe
3. Tony Kanaan
4. Simon Pagenaud
5. Helio Castroneves
6. Charlie Kimball
7. Carlos Munoz
8. Will Power
9. Juan Pablo Montoya
10. Sebastien Bourdais
11. Alexander Rossi
12. Marco Andretti
13. Ryan Hunter-Reay
14. Gabby Chaves
15. Max Chilton
16. Mikhail Aleshin (DNF)
17. Jack Hawksworth (DNF)
18. Ed Carpenter (DNF)
19. Scott Dixon (DNF)
20. Takuma Sato (DNF)
21. Conor Daly (DNF)
22. Josef Newgarden (DNF)
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