The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was quite a hectic 90 laps, which included late drama between two top 10 finishers.
Graham Rahal and Romain Grosjean had contact off the exit of Turn 5 as they were battling for seventh on Lap 87. Grosjean wanted it and Rahal was trying to make a move on Scott McLaughlin who was just ahead.
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing pilot chose the outside lane to try to pass McLaughlin and it was no contest. Grosjean, driving the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda, then took the opportunity to dive underneath but slid up hitting Rahal.
"That guy's a punk! He hit me ON PURPOSE!"@GrahamRahal is NOT HAPPY with @RGrosjean! 🍿 #INDYCAR pic.twitter.com/YVFTeBCfx1
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) May 1, 2022
The No. 15 RLL Honda stayed near the curbing strips off the corner onto the straightaway as Grosjean collected his car and made a second hit turning right into Rahal. After the second collision, they both held their positions until Grosjean completed the pass to earn sixth on the final lap.
Rahal was visibly upset with the actions done on the racetrack. After the race was completed, he was speaking to Grosjean’s teammate, Alexander Rossi.
Physical gestures were used by Rahal to show Rossi how Grosjean was driving him on the track.
“Just watch the in-car camera look at the angle of his head,” Rahal said, via Peacock. “To me, when I can see in the mirror, when his head is directed this way, when the track is going this way, it’s pretty self explanatory. And I gave him room, I was trying this outside move on Scotty the whole time. So I knew he was going to dive bomb me because I’d already been warned.
Then Rahal broke down the play-by-play while looking over a replay.
“We are already straight there,” Rahal added. “Why are you turning into me? Your right front is at my left rear. There’s no excuse for that. Here, look at him just releases the car to hit me. And then here again, boom, we’re straight. And then here we’re straight and hits me again. I’m just frustrated because this isn’t the first time. In St. Pete, he hit everybody he could hit. We come here, he hit Rossi, he hit (Colton) Herta, he hit me. At some point we got to clean up our act.”
Grosjean did not not have the same view on the side-by-side racing incident as Rahal did.
“It was quite tricky,” Grosjean said, via Peacock. “Here we touch a bit and then here we touch again. You know it’s good racing, I guess, it’s IndyCar. Wheel to wheel action.”
The Frenchmen did not take blame for the second hit where the two drivers made contact exiting the corner.
“No, no, no. I think it’s just hard racing,” he added. “I was late on the break as he was, it were a bit more grip on the outside line. I was a bit deep in the corner, but it was a gentle touch and it was okay.”
Fellow Andretti driver, Colton Herta had his share of an on-track tussle with Grosjean. On Lap 15, the youngster was looking for the 20th position. Grosjean pinned the No. 26 Honda all the way to the pit-wall on the front stretch.
Rahal didn’t have any further comments that would compliment the former Formula 1 pilot in any way.
“As another driver in the series told me, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,'” he said. “It’s kind of been his reputation over his whole career in Europe. We’re learning his reputation quickly here.”
Rahal also voiced his concerns with the lack of response from race control and implied his possible future intentions.
“To me, if race control doesn’t want to do anything, then they’re not going to do anything,” he said. “But when we go and punt him, they better not do anything to me, which in the past, I’ve been penalized for a lot less than that.”