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Detroit — Don't expect to see University of Michigan fans cheering for Graham Rahal during this weekend's IndyCar Chevrolet Dual in Detroit on Belle Isle.

Rahal, after all, spent the first 20 years of his life in Columbus and is a die-hard Ohio State fan.

"Obviously in my opinion Michigan-Ohio State, it's a great rivalry, always has been and always will be," said Rahal, whose sister graduated from Ohio State a few weeks ago. "But at the same time, unfortunately in the last 12 years it hasn't really been much of one, probably longer than that, really 14 years. Michigan frankly hasn't been a team that Ohio State has feared anymore.

"I think Michigan State has kind of taken over that."

Rahal, however, has a lot of respect for new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.

"Jim Harbaugh is a hell of a coach and a great guy," Rahal said. "We met a couple of years ago at the Indy 500 and he introduced himself to me like I didn't already know who he was. It was great to meet him because I have a lot of respect for him.

"I feel spoiled, to be honest with you, as an Ohio State fan because if you look at Ohio State right now, probably their best days are still yet to come with this team. The talent they have is unreal and that's what Michigan doesn't have. They have a lot of talented guys, but their recruiting classes aren't quite like an Urban Meyer recruiting class and I think they've got a while until they get to that point."

Still, Rahal thinks Harbaugh is a threat to Ohio State in the future.

"Without a doubt Harbaugh is 20 times the coach Brady Hoke was, but I don't know that Harbaugh has proven to be as good as Urban Meyer," he said. "Urban Meyer, when it comes to college, I just don't know if there is anybody as good as him. Nick Saban is a great coach, that's pretty clear, but everywhere Urban Meyer has gone, he's been the best."

Rahal, too, has been at his best this season on the race course. In his ninth season, he sits fifth in points, and is Honda's top driver. He finished second at Alabama.

Rahal, in fact, compared the Buckeyes to his team.

"At the end of the year, as everybody saw, that was still a very young team," Rahal said of the Buckeyes. "I liken it to my race team. You look at that team (last year's Buckeyes) and were they the most talented? Yes, they had a lot of talent, but what they did was after that Virginia Tech loss they came together as a unit and were unbeatable. The camaraderie on the team was so strong and that's like our team this year, they've really come together in racing and I think you can draw a lot of parallels there."

Rahal, son of former Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, is two points behind Team Penske's Helio Castroneves for fourth and seven behind Target/Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon.

"We haven't gotten a win yet, but we've done a good job of competing with Penske and Ganassi," Rahal said. "I think coming into Detroit we have two good opportunities to make up the points and hopefully get our second career win.

"We have a group of individuals that are just 100 percent committed to doing whatever it takes to win and I think they all get along extremely well. Last year, unfortunately at times, we had some personalities that clashed a little bit and the biggest thing is making sure everybody is on one page, and I think we've gotten to that point."

david.goricki@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/DavidGoricki

Race schedule

All times subject to change

FRIDAY

7:30 a.m.: Gates open

8-8:30 a.m.: Pirelli World Challenge practice

8:45-10:15 a.m.: TUDOR Championship practice

10:35-11:50 a.m.: Verizon IndyCar Series practice

12:10-12:40 p.m.: Pirelli World Challenge practice

12:50-1:10 p.m.: Corvette Corral track laps

1:15-2:45 p.m.: TUDOR Championship practice

3-3:20 p.m.: SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road

3:40-4:55 p.m.: Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying

5:10-5:25 p.m.: TUDOR Championship qualifying

5:30-5:45 p.m.: TUDOR Championship qualifying

5:55-6:10 p.m.: TUDOR Championship qualifying

SATURDAY

7:30 a.m.: Gates open

7:30-8 a.m.: Pirelli World Challenge qualifying

8:55-9:25 a.m.: Verizon IndyCar Series practice

9:30-10:15 a.m.: TUDOR Championship drivers' autograph session

9:50-10:50 a.m.: Cadillac V-Series Challenge

10-10:30 a.m.: TUDOR Championship live auction

11:15-11:45 a.m.: TUDOR Championship open grid fan walk

12:05-1:45 p.m.: Chevrolet Sports Car Classic

2:25-2:45 p.m.: SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road

3:30-6 p.m.: Chevrolet Dual in Detroit

6 p.m.: Concert (3 Doors Down)

6:30-7:30 p.m.: Corvette Corral track laps

SUNDAY

8 a.m.: Gates open

8:05-8:20 a.m.: SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road practice/qualifying

8:35-9:05 a.m.: Pirelli World Challenge warmup

9:15-9:45 a.m.: Cadillac Corral track laps

9:45-10:15 a.m.: Corvette Corral track laps

10:25-11:10 a.m.: IndyCar experience and pace car rides

11:25-11:55 a.m.: Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying

12:10-1:10 p.m.: Cadillac V-Series Challenge

1:15-2:15 p.m.: Concert (Smash Mouth)

2:05-2:15 p.m.: SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road

2:15-2:35 p.m.: SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road

3:30-6 p.m.: Chevrolet Dual in Detroit

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