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IndyCar Driver of the Year 2011: 8th

You voted Graham Rahal into 8th place in Crash.net's IndyCar Driver of the Year poll!
Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2011:
8. Graham Rahal

Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio USA
Team: Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing
2011 starts: 17
Poles: 0
Wins: 0
Top 5: 3
Top 10: 6
Championship points: 320
Championship position: 9th

Considering that he's only 22 years old, it's amazing to think that 2011 marked Graham Rahal's fourth full season in IndyCar (and that on top of a further season spent in the Champ Car Series in 2007.) But then, Rahal practically has race fuel pumping through his veins, thanks to his upbringing around the top circuits of the US and around the world, as the son of the legendary driver Bobby Rahal.

This year it was the son's turn to shine, thanks to a full-season seat with one of IndyCar's biggest and most formidable teams - Chip Ganassi Racing. He's clearly relished the opportunity that the superior team infrastructure and equipment has given him, but it would be fair to say that he hasn't entirely made the best of those this season with a disappointing number of finishes outside the top ten.

There have certainly been some high points: any doubts about his road course skills were banished when he achieved a fine second place in atrocious wet conditions in Sao Paulo, and he followed this up with a strong third place (behind Dan Wheldon and JR Hildebrand) at the centennial Indianapolis 500 in May. After that, his best result for the remainder of the season was a second place on the Milwaukee Mile.

But at times he seemed to be struggling with the idea that he was in a "support role" position to the star Ganassi drivers Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, and less than thrilled to be expected to defer to them and help them in their championship rather than necessarily being able to race for himself. Whether that's the case or not, it's an issue that the team will want to get resolved over the close season so that Rahal can concentrate on properly mixing it up with the top drivers in 2012.

Perhaps Rahal's finest moment this year came after the final race of the season and the tragic accident that claimed the life of Wheldon. Rahal's casual tweet about possibly auctioning off some of his sporting memorabilia to raise money sparked a huge global auction on behalf of the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund and saw Rahal leading the way as it gathered momentum. For this alone, Rahal deserves kudos and a hefty bonus of extra "impressed" points from us all.

Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2011 results so far:

9. Ed Carpenter
10. JR Hildebrand



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Graham Rahal on track during practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. August 2011. [Photo credit; IndyCar Media]
Graham Rahal dons his racing suit and helmet in the Indianapolis pit lane [Picture credit: Dan Helrigel for IndyCar Media]
Will Power (inside) and Graham Rahal (outside) go into the tight turn 1 at the start of the race. [Photo Credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Graham Rahal in pit road at Kentucky Speedway [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Graham Rahal in pit road on the streets of Baltimore. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Graham Rahal on the streets of Baltimore. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Will Power celebrates with his team after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his team owner Roger Penske after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his wife Liz after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Team Chevy sweeps the podium as Tony Kanaan (center), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Saturday, August 30, 2014, during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Teammate Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes second, and Ed Carpenter, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes third. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg EllmanLAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, makes a quick pit stop while racing to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Brian Cleary/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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