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RAHAL WINS FIRESTONE 600 IN CLOSEST RACE IN TMS HISTORY
FORT WORTH, Texas (August 27, 2016) – The 76-day period between the start and conclusion of the Firestone 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway was well worth the wait for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal.
Rahal made a dramatic last-lap pass of leader James Hinchcliffe to win the Firestone 600 by a scant .0080 of a second, the closest race in Texas Motor Speedway history and the fifth closest in Indy-car history.
The previous best at Texas Motor Speedway came in 2002 when Sam Hornish Jr. edged Helio Castroneves by .0096 of a second, which had been the closest of all major racing series that competed at the venue prior to Saturday night’s finish.
The final lap would be the only lap Rahal would lead to earn his first win since Mid-Ohio last year.
“I led 200 yards,” Rahal said with a broad smile. “That’s all I needed.”
The scintillating finish was set up by the fourth and final caution of the 248-lap race when Jack Hawksworth and Mikhail Aleshin made contact in Turn 4 on Lap 232 to bring out the yellow. Tony Kanaan had the lead at that point, but was the only driver among the top five to head into the pits for fresh tires and would restart fourth.
Hinchcliffe, who led a race-high 188 laps, regained the lead for the restart with nine laps to go and would be followed by Rahal, Castroneves, Kanaan and Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Simon Pagenaud. The closing laps were spectacularly close with the leaders going four wide at times and nearly touching at some point of every closing lap.
Hinchcliffe fended them all off until that fateful final lap when Rahal got a run on him low out of Turn 4 and edged him on the inside lane at the finish line. It would be the only lap Rahal would lead and would serve as redemption for the win he let get away here in 2012. He was leading in the waning laps when he brushed the wall and allowed Justin Wilson to pass him and go on to the victory.
Kanaan finished third while Pagenaud took fourth and Castroneves rounded out the top five.
In the Verizon IndyCar Series championship, Pagenaud extended his lead to 28 points with the fourth-place finish while his closest pursuer and Penske teammate Will Power finished eighth.
The Firestone 600 was the resumption of the race that was postponed Saturday, June 11, due to weather and rescheduled for the following day. A total of 71 of the scheduled 248 laps were run June 12 before the race was suspended due to inclement weather. The race resumed on Lap 72 with Hinchcliffe leading the field to the green to restart the race.