Final in a series of guest columns filed by IndyCar driver Graham Rahal during the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:
We had pretty high expectations heading into the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but they didn't pan out. We ended up with a 12th-place finish, which isn't horrible, but it's also not what we wanted, either.
Honestly, we felt like the No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda would be solid during the race, especially after the disappointment of Saturday's qualifying. Honda worked overnight to give us some really good engines, and everything was looking upbeat and positive for the race.
We went into it thinking we could move forward, and we did in the early stages of the race. At one point, we were as high as sixth. We were in the hunt. Unfortunately we started to lose track position and just couldn't get it back in the end.
Still, we had the third-fastest lap of the race, and we all know this car is fast and capable of big things this season. The end results of Sunday's race don't show how good a job the Service Central team did. Hopefully we'll move on to next week's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park and get the result we want.
I'm staying positive about our first race with the new engine/chassis combination. We all know the Honda engine has potential to win races this year, so we're moving forward anticipating good things. We're fast enough to compete, and our teammates performed well, too — including Scott Dixon's runner-up finish — so there's no reason to be negative.
I still like our chances. We're working as hard as ever and holding our heads up. It's a quick turnaround to Barber, so we'll be ready to get back at it right away.
I appreciate all the support from everyone in St. Pete. We had a great crowd and enthusiastic reception and a touching tribute to Dan Wheldon. We wanted to put on a great show, and I think we did. We made a lot of passes, had plenty of lead changes, and moved into the new era of the IZOD IndyCar Series with a solid effort and a good product.
The end result wasn't what we wanted as a team or what I wanted as a driver, but it had some positive elements. I'm going to use those as motivation as we carry on from here.
Graham Rahal, 23, won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in 2008. He finished 12th in the No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing Honda/Dallara in Sunday's race. The son of 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, he resides in New Albany, Ohio.