INDIANAPOLIS - Running fifth in the closing stages of Sunday's Indianapolis 500, Graham Rahal figured he was down to one option: Radio team co-owner David Letterman for a list of Top 10 Ways to Win the Indy 500?
Not exactly. "I was hoping the top four were going to wipe themselves out," said Rahal, who instead watched Juan Pablo Montoya score his second Indy 500 victory with the top four cars powered by Chevrolet engines.
As has been the norm this season in the IndyCar Series, Rahal's fifth-place result in his No. 15 Honda was best-in-class among teams powered by the manufacturer's 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged, direct-injection V-6 engine mated at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to its new superspeedway aero kit.
"I'm really, really proud of these guys, all the effort they continue to put in," Rahal said, referring to his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing crew. "I mean, once again, the top Honda. The Chevy was just in a league of its own, unfortunately, on horsepower. I was happy we were as close to Chuck [third-place Charlie Kimball] and [fourth-place] Scott Dixon at the end as we were. I thought there was no hope.
"More importantly than anything, I said to my boys coming into today, no matter what, two things I wanted -- that was to be the top Honda and to keep up with the top three in points, top four. Unfortunately, three of those guys finished ahead of us, but still had a very good day in points."
Rahal exited Indy's 2.5-mile oval fifth in points and 68 behind championship leader Montoya.
Rahal, 26, is the son of team co-owner and 1986 Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal, whose racing partners are businessman Mike Lanigan and Letterman. The latter ended his 33-year late-night television career Wednesday night in New York City and then retreated to his native Indiana for festivities leading into the race.
Letterman, 68, developed his passion for the Indy 500 while growing up in the Broad Ripple neighborhood of Indianapolis. He was spotted in Gasoline Alley Sunday morning wearing a red team shirt and his trademark grin.
"Yeah, I mean, we wanted to win for Dave," Rahal said of his father's business partner for the last 20 years. "I think we all knew that we were going to have an uphill battle today. I think Dave will be very happy . . . He assured me we'll see him around the racetrack more."