After falling victim to rain, the Firestone 600 would restart after a 2 month wait. The wait would be worth it with Graham Rahal winning the Firestone 600 by the closest margin in track history beating the dominant James Hinchcliffe by 0.0080 of a second. This is Rahal’s first win of the season moving him from 9th to 7th in the points standings.
James Hinchcliffe lead the field to green on lap 74 after being considered the leader for 76 days. His 2-month lead would come to an end when an early battle with Ryan Hunter-Reay would commence. The former teammates dueled for a number of laps allowing Helio Castroneves to catch the two. Ed Carpenter would show his muscle early making a move on Hunter-Reay that moved the team owner into 3rd place. Graham Rahal following trend passed Hunter-Reay and battled with Carpenter.
Pit stops began on lap 102 when Hunter-Reay would come in complaining of a loose car. James Hinchcliffe would catch his first lap traffic of the day on lap 103. Max Chilton would be the first car lapped meaning he was 2 laps down due to already being a lap down after the first 74 laps ran back in June.
The rest of the field started pitting around lap 111 still earlier than expected for pitting. Charlie Kimball would have a flashback of his major accident in Pocono when having to avoid Takuma Sato leaving his pit stall. Castroneves would cycle into the lead due to Hinchcliffe staying out longer on his tires. Helios lead would not last, Hinchcliffe would get the lead back on lap 127. Pack racing for 4th place saw Ed Carpenter, Will Power, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, and Tony Kanaan just inches from touching. The pack would break apart and turn into multiple battles among the drivers primarily teammates and championship rivals Will Power and Simon Pagenaud battling for 7th place.
James Hinchcliffe, unlike the first pit cycle, would come out in the lead of the race. Power and Rahal would have close calls on pit road with Power being held to allow Rahal to enter his pit box. Rahal like Power would also escape a collision with Mikhail Aleshin.
Race leader Hinchcliffe would make his last pit stop on lap 206. Chasing him down was Ed Carpenter and Scott Dixon. Lap 214 saw the two veterans make contact sending Dixon spinning eventually hitting wall knocking him out of the race. Dixon showed his displeasure by signaling to Carpenter that he was number one.
The restart brought lapped cars notably Mikhail Aleshin and Alexander Rossi into the lead pack. Ed Carpenter would crash with 24 laps to go knocking the contender out of the race. Helio Castroneves would also receive damage from the crash along with Max Chilton spinning thru the grass to avoid the accident.
The last caution came when the Schmidt Peterson car of Aleshin spun collecting AJ Foyt’s 41 entry of Jack Hawksworth. Hawksworth would need assistance getting to the safety vehicle. Max Chilton would use the grass once again to avoid the wreckage.
The last restart came with 9 laps to go. Hinchliffe, Kanaan, Rahal, and Pagenaud would battle at some points even going 4-wide making contact. The tandem of Hinchcliffe and Rahal would clear Kanaan on the last lap drag racing to the finish line. Rahal would end Hinchliffe’s race long dominance beating him by 0.0080 of a second. Tony Kanaan would round out the podium with Simon Pagenaud in 4th extending his points lead by 8 points due to Will Power finishing in the 8th position.
Featured Image Credit – Chris Owens