Who knows the depth of conflicted emotions better than Graham Rahal after Sunday's 'Bump Day' where he was knocked out of last position by his own teammate and buddy, Jack Harvey, in what Harvey described as something close to the "Hunger games".
And the fact that it all unfolded on the anniversary when his boss, Bobby Rahal, and his own Dad, experienced the same thing on the same track.
Bobby Rahal thought he would never experience the same nightmare twice in his life of getting bumped out of the Indy 500 starting lineup.
"It happened to Rahal as a driver in 1993, just one year after he had won the 1992 CART championship.
Thirty years later as a team owner, the nightmare scenario developed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. All four of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars were slow – so slow, in fact, they were in a class by themselves in the back of the pack," NBC reported on Sunday.
It is all bittersweet, as Rahal, the team owner, has three of his four drivers in the race.
Team Rahal made history Sunday with the fastest woman in IndyCar history, Katherine Legge:
"As a team owner, Rahal has to be impartial to all four of his drivers, including Christian Lundgaard, a talented 21-year-old from Denmark, Jack Harvey, a likable but underperforming 30-year-old from England, Graham Rahal and for this year’s Indianapolis 500, 42-year-old Katherine Legge of England," NBC reported, adding:
"Legge had not driven an Indy car in 10 years but was able to earn the last starting position – the outside of Row 10 – in Saturday’s first day of qualifications for the 107th Indianapolis 500. Legge’s four-lap average in the No. 44 Honda was 231.070 miles per hour."
Graham Rahal, son to champion Bobby Rahal, who has been an excellent ambassador for motorsports in general, was overcome with the power of his emotions, sitting right at the track, top his car, as Harvey pushed the limits of speed to qualify in last position, taking Graham's spot.
Media reports describe the situation:
The four drivers that had to fight for the final three positions in last chance qualifying included Dale Coyne Racing’s Sting Ray Robb, and all three of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s drivers.
“Today, felt like we were in the ‘Hunger Games’ with our own team,” Harvey said.
It was another example of how cruel the Indianapolis 500 can be to a racing team, a race driver, or the Rahal family.
Lundgaard was the first driver to make a four-lap run Sunday afternoon and was the fastest of the slow, with a four-lap average of 229.649 miles per hour. Robb was next and ran a four-lap average of 229.549 mph in the No. 51 Honda.
Harvey went out third and his time was the slowest yet – just 228.477 mph which put him tentatively in 33rd position and on the Bubble.
It was Graham Rahal’s turn.
When the Champ Car Series folded and was absorbed by the old Indy Racing League to become today’s NTT IndyCar Series, Rahal drove to victory in his first race in the combined series, becoming the youngest winner in IndyCar history when he won the 2008 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Rahal’s team had scrambled in Gasoline Alley making changes to the No. 15 United Auto Rentals Honda to ensure that Rahal made the Indy 500 starting lineup.
To do that, however, he would have to bump out his teammate, Harvey.
Rahal hit the 2.5-mile oval in his Honda and put down two decent laps at 229.614 mph and 229.298 mph.
But there was trouble brewing in Rahal’s Honda on the first lap.
The weight jacker broke and the driver was having to hang on to the race car to make sure it remained in control while still running a speed fast enough to make the race.
“That ruins the handle of the car and the aerodynamics, but you can’t do anything,” Graham said. “You try to adjust the tools on the car with the front bar, but everything that need to happen, it didn’t happen.
At the post-race press conference, Harvey was also filled with emotion about what had just occurred, and he shared some of those feelings very sincerely with the media.
"I wanted to win it for me, and for my team, which is our team," he said. "Ill be honest, this is hard." The team was filled with reaction when Harvey came out at the last moment and knocked Graham out.
"This is very hard, " Harvey said, when asked what he had said to Graham. "I told him that I really did my best on those four laps, and I really wanted to be in the race, and I was sorry that I had to knock him out to do it."
During the discussion, there were times when Harvey's face showed telltale signs of deep pain, even appearing to have some tears in his eyes.
Definitely, this must be some of the hardest moments for Team Rahal. Early morning on Sunday as Gasoline Alley was just beginning to start moving, team owner Bobby Rahal was spotted sitting on top of the rows of toolboxes, alone, appearing to be contemplating what a difficult day lay ahead for him and his team.
Watch the historic press conference:
Sunday's 500 is going to be very interesting and as always, filled with one person getting their dreams fulfilled. And every driver wants that one person- to be them.
(Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones)