NASCAR: IndyCar Driver Graham Rahal Throws Subtle Shade at the Organization

by Caitlin Berard

When you think race cars, do you think of NASCAR or IndyCar first? Chances are, your answer is NASCAR. It’s been around the longest, it has the longer season, and is an overall bigger sport than its open-wheeled counterpart. For fans of NASCAR, there’s no better auto racing league, but IndyCar enthusiasts (and its drivers) disagree. And in a recent press conference, IndyCar driver Graham Rahal went as far as to throw subtle shade at NASCAR.

Graham Rahal begins with a…let’s say a backhanded compliment to NASCAR. “The purist in me, I like when the race starts that we aim towards the completion,” said the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver. “I will say that I do tip my cap to NASCAR in recent times for stepping out and trying different things. Whether they’re successful or not, whether they’re liked by all or not, we’re in a period of time that we do need to branch out, we need to try.”

Have you ever heard the adage “everything that comes before the word ‘but’ is horse s–t”? Yep. You could apply that to Rahal’s statement. Because right after the (sort of) compliment, he says “but,” then adds that IndyCar is simply better than NASCAR.

“But I also think that just honestly the purity of IndyCar racing resounds with race fans; not having stages and all of this stuff. It’s the first man or woman to the finish line is the winner; that’s the way it is. The championship, what I like there is no Playoffs. The best man or woman over the season is your champion; it doesn’t reset at any stage. I’m a purist in that.”

Graham Rahal Will Compete in Upcoming IndyCar Event Resembling NASCAR

The actual racing is great, but let’s be honest. No truly great American event is complete without a dash of pageantry. And it’s everything on top of the race is itself that makes a NASCAR weekend as special as it is.

Well, this summer, IndyCar is taking a page out of NASCAR’s book. The Iowa Speedway will host the only double-header of the 2022 IndyCar season, and the event is shaping up to be pretty exciting. In addition to the 250 and the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300, IndyCar is bringing in musical acts including Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, and Florida Georgia Line.

Bud Denker, Penske Corporation president, says that IndyCar is attempting to capture the excitement of a street race with their summer double-header. “I go back to the word ‘event’ versus ‘races’ that we have in this series,” Denker says. “When you think about what we’re going to do at the Iowa Speedway right now with two races, this kind of secular motion of entertainment involved… Think about the number of fans we’re going to have at this event who have never been to a race before because they’re coming for a different reason, to see entertainment. [And] by the way, there’s a world class event going on…”