Graham Rahal has continued his surge in the second half of the IndyCar Series season with an emphatic home victory in the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Rahal, who started thirteenth in the 90-lap race in his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda-powered entry corralled his second victory of the season and third of his IndyCar career. The Ohio native reduced the gap to just nine points from IndyCar Series championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya with two races remaining in the season. There are ten drivers still mathematically in contention for the title.

Since earning his first victory of the season June 27 at Auto Club Speedway, his first win since March 2008, Rahal has finished third, fourth and first to emerge as a surprise contender for a maiden championship crown.

Rahal’s father, Bob, a team co-owner, won IndyCar races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1985 and 1986.

“This track has been special for the Rahal family going back to the days of Jim Trueman,” said Graham Rahal, who wore an Ohio State University football-themed helmet. “Jim was the man who founded this place, got this place going. He was also the one who got my dad started in racing.

“I grew up at this place, running around when my dad was racing. It’s come full circle.”

Rahal is the eighth different winner in nine permanent/street circuit races this season. He picked up the lead for good on Lap 67 when the lead pack, including race leader Montoya, pitted under caution for their final fuel/tyre stops.

Rahal then fended off Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon on a Lap 84 restart on the 2.258-mile (3.634-kilometre), 13-turn circuit following a full-course yellow and went on to win by 3.4 seconds.

“I was just able to just absolutely gap anyone I needed to at the end,” Rahal added. “I didn’t have any push-to-passes left on that last restart so I was pretty nervous Wilson would get me.”

Wilson, who started fourteenth in the Andretti Autosport #25 Honda, finished a season-high second after a less-than-convincing return to the series midway through the season.

Pagenaud was another big mover in the race, making up twelve positions relative to his starting spot in the his #22 Team Penske Chevrolet entry to finish a season’s-best third to round out the podium.

2015 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio start

Pole-sitter and five-time Mid-Ohio winner Scott Dixon finished in fourth place.

Scott Dixon, a five-time winner at Mid-Ohio, started from pole and finished fourth in his #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He is 25 points behind Rahal in the championship hunt. The Kiwi finished ahead of teammate Tony Kanaan, who rounded out the top five.

Defending IndyCar Series champion Will Power had another tough outing and finished fourteenth, although only two spots behind teammate Montoya, which managed to keep his slim title defence hopes alive.

Montoya, who started tenth in the #2 Team Penske Chevrolet and led 21 laps in the middle of the racebefore his final pit stop, finished twelfth.

“Everyone did an amazing job,” said Montoya, who has topped the standings since winning the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St.Petersburg. “We did everything we were supposed to do today and the race was playing out perfectly for us. Unfortunately, we got a caution with about 25 laps to go that we didn’t need. It worked out for some and didn’t work out for others. But we had a great car and we still have the points lead. [I’m] ready for Pocono where we won last year.”

Montoya still holds top spot in the Drivers Championship on 465 points, although he’s just nine clear of Rahal on 456.

The next round of the season is its penultimate race, the ABC Supply 500 on August 23 at Pocono Raceway.

2015 IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Final Classification (90 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Laps Result
1. Graham Rahal us Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 90 1:55:20.0864
2. Justin Wilson uk Andretti Autosport 90 + 3.4049
3. Simon Pagenaud fr Team Penske 90 + 4.5706
4. Scott Dixon nz Chip Ganassi Racing 90 + 5.0293
5. Tony Kanaan br Chip Ganassi Racing 90 + 10.5934
6. Tristan Vautier fr Dale Coyne Racing 90 + 11.4414
7. Ryan Hunter-Reay us Andretti Autosport 90 + 13.8958
8. Jack Hawksworth uk A.J. Foyt Enterprises 90 + 15.0372
9. Carlos Muñoz co Andretti Autosport 90 + 15.6116
10. Marco Andretti us Andretti Autosport 90 + 16.0094
11. Juan Pablo Montoya co Team Penske 90 + 16.1321
12. Gabby Chaves co Bryan Herta Autosport 90 + 16.4962
13. Josef Newgarden us CFH Racing 90 + 18.0350
14. Will Power au Team Penske 90 + 18.4290
15. Hélio Castroneves br Team Penske 90 + 19.1285
16. James Jakes uk Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 90 + 20.1010
17. Sébastien Bourdais fr KV Racing Technology 90 + 20.5091
18. Ryan Briscoe au Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 90 + 20.0864
19. Stefano Coletti mc KV Racing Technology 90 + 21.5426
20. Rodolfo González ve Dale Coyne Racing 90 + 24.9667
21. Luca Filippi it CFH Racing 89 Spin
22. Sage Karam us Chip Ganassi Racing 89 + 1 lap
23. Charlie Kimball us Chip Ganassi Racing 87 + 3 laps
Not Classified Team / Entry Laps Result
DNF. Takuma Sato jp A.J. Foyt Enterprises 60 Contact

Image via IndyCar Series

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8