AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
Graham Rahal couldn’t get Simon Pagenaud back in the race at Long Beach but he did offer two meaningful words: I’m sorry.
Rahal knocked Pagenaud out on the first turn of the opening lap after braking too late and tapping the Frenchman from the rear.
Before all the hate messages get read, I apologize to @simonpagenaud. I hate that for anyone, but for sure one of my closer friends in the paddock. Sorry Pag!
— Graham Rahal (@GrahamRahal) April 15, 2018
The quick apology hardly made up for ending Pagenaud’s day, but it was at least an appreciated gesture.
“It's pretty rare that a driver would apologize, so I take that as a form of respect,” Pagenaud said Friday at Barber Motorsports Park. “I take it and I go away with it. I'm thankful for the apology, to be honest, but it doesn't change the result. But I respect the fact that he respected my outcome.”
First time I'm not finishing a race on the lead lap since Pocono of 2016. Unfortunately scooter laps aren't scored by #IndyCar race control... #brakelightsexistforareason // #tgplb @IndyCar pic.twitter.com/1luced9i9k
— Simon Pagenaud (@simonpagenaud) April 15, 2018
Rahal got a drive-through penalty for the mistake but still managed to salvage a fifth-place finish. There was no saving the day for Pagenaud, whose race ended before it even got going.
“I talked to him right away,” Rahal said. “Simon's one of my best buddies out here. I certainly never meant to do that to anybody but particularly to him. I've already gotten with him and we've discussed it and all is good.”
Both drivers felt the incident cost them a chance to compete with Alexander Rossi at the end for the win. Pagenaud didn’t even get to work up a good sweat.
“It's a shame that you don't get to race,” he said. “Quite frankly, it's my job but when you just DNF the first corner, it just feels like a heartbreaker. It's a real shame.
“We had a really, really fast car as well. We really felt we had a shot at challenging Rossi for the win last weekend, but it's racing. These things happen. Luckily for me, it doesn't happen too often