Friday, May 26, 2023

INDY 500: Graham Rahal makes the Race After All

As what a long, Strange Trip it’s been at Mother Speedway this May!


By now it’s old news, even if it’s only 72 Hours Old since the following Day’s Press Conference. But we All know about the first incident of this year’s Indianapolis 500 practice and qualifying. When Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Katherine Legge was unable to avoid crashing into Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports Stefan Wilson directly ahead of Her, when the large group of cars suddenly Checked up!


As both cars heavily impacted the Safer Barrier during Monday’s final practice session before Carb Day. With Wilson getting the worst of it, when His No. 24 Dallara/Chevy’s Nose made Heavy contact with the Wall! Which ultimately led to the 33yr Old Englishman suffering a broken vertebrae and being ruled ineligible for this year’s 107th running of the Indianapolis 500.


As Racer’s Marshall Pruett mentioned earlier how He’d noticed Stefan’s elbows being Bloody Raw from the way that I believe the Six foot Three and One-half inches tall? Driver had to Accordion Himself in order to fit into the Uber tight confines of the Dallara DW12 chassis. And how His older brother, the late Justin Wilson had also suffered a broken back after a seemingly mild crash at Mid-Ohio years earlier!


Yet when did the driver’s Height become akin to State Secrets? Since I cannot find Stefan’s listed Height anywhere on Ye Intrawoods’, Urgh! Even though I know He was taller then His older brother Justin…


All of which makes me wonder why Dallara and IndyCar Don’t require larger Tubs? Even though I’m sure it’s a weight issue to what a longer chassis would incur, Not to mention Aerodynamics and longer wheelbase racecars. But taller drivers shouldn’t be punished for their Height!


Although as I’ve said many times before, I’m Not an Engineer. And reportedly Stef’s tub was substantially damaged during His Turn-1 Wall impact! Requiring a new tub regardless. So I don’t know if a Shorter driver would have incurred the same injuries or not? And you have to say the resiliency and overall “Survivability” for racecars entering Turn-1 at approximately 235-238mph with the Boost turned down is remarkable!


Which ultimately leads to Graham Rahal having accepted DRR and Don Cusick’s offer to replace Stefan Wilson this Sunday in the team’s No. 24 entry. Since ironically Graham is also one of the taller drivers in the IndyCar Paddock, along with His new teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay Me Thinks…


Yeah, I’ve probably been somewhat Harsh against Graham over the years here upon No Fenders, where I tend to just let my raw emotions fly! Having previously noted how much I was rooting for Jack Harvey to knock Graham out of this year’s Indy 500 field, for symmetry’s sake, being the 30th Anniversary of His father Bobby not qualifying.


Yet I do feel that Graham is definitely one of the “good Guys” in IndyCar. And His classiness in handling the devastating situation of being Bumped from the Indy 500 was impressive. Along with His emphatically proclaiming He wouldn’t Buy His way into the 500 or Deny any of His teammates their ride speaks volumes to Mwah!


As I tend to forget how Graham was the one leading the charge for the Wilson Family Charity auction after Justin’s Death, which raised nearly $640,000! Along with knowing of two private situations where He provided Indy 500 accommodations for somebody with Cancer. Along with donating a set of racing tyres for a struggling driver…


Although one has to say that it’s a very weird way that Graham Rahal ultimately made His way into this year’s Indianapolis 500 field! As Kudos to everyone making this happen, including Honda, who Graham’s been a longtime partner of. Don Cusick, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Chevrolet and everyone else!


Two of the more obscure trivia tidbits divulged on Sunday’s Pole and Last Row Shootout were that Graham Rahal would have become only the third driver with 15 consecutive Indy 500 starts to Not Qualify. Joining Johnny Rutherford and Tom Sneva.


Also, with Jack Harvey starting 33rd and last. Harvey would have become only the third driver to start last two years in-a-row, joining Billy Boat and Marty Roth…


But Graham will now start 33rd and last aboard the No. 24 DRR/Cusick Motorsports Dallara/Chevy instead.


Whilst I won’t even dwell upon the irony of it being another “One Off” Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver who ultimately put Graham back into the race! Although it’s just ironic and nothing else!


While apparently in the press conference. Graham said with a smile on His face, You Haven’t gotten rid of Me yet Jack!


Thus having been a Huge Fan of Justin Wilson’s for several years, and feeling like Stefan’s never gotten a proper “Crack” at His IndyCar racing aspirations. Naturally I have to feel disappointed for Stefan’s injury and missing the race!


Yet I can only Hope that He comes back stronger than ever like His late brother did! And that better days for both Cusick Motorsports and Stefan Wilson are near on the Horizon!


 Get Well soon Stefan!