The Marty Smith Podcast: Graham Rahal Discusses NASCAR Legend Jimmie Johnson Racing in the Indy 500

by Jonathan Howard

It’s Indy 500 week and that means The Marty Smith Podcast is focused on racing, so Graham Rahal joined the show. Marty and Wes talked with Graham about the Indy 500, Jimmie Johnson, and the differences between what an IndyCar driver sees on a track and what a NASCAR Cup Series driver sees.

It’s always great to have people who are passionate and knowledgeable about something talk about it. It’s one of my favorite things. I could listen to a paint drying expert as long as they were enthusiastic and smart with their information. Graham Rahal knows racing. The son of 1986 Indy 500 champion, Bobby Rahal, it’s second nature.

“‘Great preparation and great opportunity,’ to steal a line from Herb Brooks, from ‘Miracle.’ I think with Jimmie, the guy puts all the effort in. And I think it’s no secret, not to take anything away from him, but he’s in the best cars this month. Which is when I say ‘great opportunity,” Graham said.

When it comes to one of racing’s best handlers behind the wheel, nothing is out of reach. Even at 46-years-old.

“But he’s going to be a force on Sunday,” he continued. “I think the biggest thing for Jimmie, is going to be to understand, and he’ll tell you this, the flow of the race. It’s gonna be to understand the pace, it’s gonna be to understand traffic, it’s gonna be to understand how to minimize mistakes, marvels. Things like that that cup guys don’t see too much. Because in Cup they’re running two to three lanes wide. You know, here at Indy, the lane is… very very fine line. And if you’re six inches, eight inches too wide, it could be day over.”

What do you say, Outsiders? Is Jimmie Johnson going to give these IndyCar guys a run for their money?

Graham Rahal Explains Challenges of the Indy 500 to The Marty Smith Podcast

Talking with Marty, Graham revealed what Jimmie Johnson might be seeing for the first time. Qualifying and racing are different speeds. Those corners aren’t gradual either. Right angles, 90-degree turns. It’s a hard race to drive in and even harder to win.

There are going to be some lessons for Johnson along the way. Some of those he’s already experienced.

“I think I was talking to Jimmie [Johnson] about it, you know I think that was something that he experienced in his qualifying run,” Graham explained. “He’s turning, thinking ‘I got it I got it I got it,’ then realized ‘Oh sh**’ no I don’t, I’m way off line and now I’m gonna hit the fence.’ But it takes the brain to catch up to that extra speed, things just happen so quickly, makes it pretty tough.”

This is going to be a big test for Jimmie Johnson. His legacy in NASCAR is cemented. In fact, it’s borderline foundational to the history of the sport at this point. Behind the wheel of any vehicle, Johnson is a dangerous man to those trying to beat him.

I think this Indy 500 is going to be an awesome race, regardless of where Johnson lands. However, if he’s racing near the front with 50 miles or so to go, people are going to get very excited. Check out the rest of The Marty Smith Podcast below.