For Graham Rahal, the 2021 IndyCar season was another quietly impressive campaign. The No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda driver finished seventh in the championship standings and secured top-10 finishes in 11 of the 16 races, including a podium at Texas. 2021 marks the seventh consecutive year that Rahal has been within the top 10 of the IndyCar championship. While he may not be a champion yet, he’s always a contender, and a title may be even closer in his future with the strides his team took this season.
I spoke to Graham recently for Frontstretch about his thoughts on the 2021 campaign, including what he’s proud of, working with several different teammates throughout the season, and if there’s anything specific he’s focused in on to prepare for next year.
Plus, the 2011 24 Hours of Daytona winner gave his thoughts on the 2022 IndyCar schedule conflict between Texas and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Brittany Frederick: How do you evaluate your 2021 IndyCar season? You may not have gotten the race win you’ve been fighting for, but you finished in the top-10 in over half the races, which is consistency that very few drivers have over a full season.
Graham Rahal: We’ve been really good this year, and consistency has definitely been our thing. I think that it’s just one of those things though, that we haven’t been able to get a win. And ultimately, when you look at the championship, that’s what affects us the most…We’ve only been on the podium once. We have seven top-5’s this year, which is probably the most of anybody, or very, very, close, I would say. But you’ve got to get some wins to tip yourself over and to go win a championship, and we haven’t been able to quite do that.
So we need to just keep our heads down. I do think once the dam breaks, the wins will come rushing through. We’ve been so close so many times, and a little break here and there hasn’t quite gone our way, but we’ve just got to keep focused and putting our heads down and it will happen. There’s no doubt.
BF: You’ve been within the top half of the championship standings every year since 2015, as well. Is there any one thing that you’ve noticed this season that would push you to that next level and getting the Astor Cup? Or how do you look at the future?
GR: I actually think that we were damn close this year, honestly. I felt this year we did a lot of the good things—a lot of the small things, a lot of the big things right. I feel like we really closed the gap. You could say qualifying is one thing, but if you look at qualifying of recent, our performance has gotten significantly better.
And so as I look towards next year, I do think there’s a lot that we can carry from what we’ve been finding lately in our race cars and our qualifying cars as well, that’ll help us. I do believe that we’re on to something that’s working better, and I think that’ll help us going forward.
Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.