Rahal preparing for bumps of Dual, upcoming nuptials

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — Graham Rahal is one of Honda's big hopes, and the apple of drag racer Courtney Force's eye.

Rahal finished his practice run in the IndyCar Series on Belle Isle Friday and tweeted that it was going to be a tough and physically demanding weekend on the faster, but apparently equally bumpy, course.

Then he got a phone call from his fiancée Force, the Funny Car driver, reminding him to come along with her on their wedding preparations, early next week.

The scions of two famous racing families, Rahal and Force got engaged in Venice, Italy, in November. The wedding is this autumn.

But first, they both have a lot of racing to do.

About the racing on Belle Isle, Rahal seemed concerned. About participating in the wedding preparations, he seemed resigned.

"It looks like we are going to have our hands full here," he said of the Dual in Detroit races Saturday and Sunday, the only doubleheader on the IndyCar schedule this season.

"All things being considered, it looks like Chevy was really dominant, probably the most dominant they've been all year in the first session.

"We've got a little work to be done, to close that gap."

The work is both essential and hard.

Rahal entered the weekend, the end of which marks the halfway point of the season, in fifth place in the IndyCar Series. He must not lose too much ground to all the Chevrolets ahead of him, or any hope for a championship will be diminished.

The native of New Albany, Ohio hopes for a good showing in Detroit, despite the dominance of Chevrolet on the road course.

"We'll just have to outrace them, outfight them, when it comes time for that, tomorrow," he said.

"I don't know, this place, depending on what the weather is going to do for us tomorrow, it's going to be pretty physical on us, both days. You know, obviously the track's got quite a bit of bumps to it. And, therefore, it kind of beats you up a little bit more.

"But, we'll see how this goes. I think we'll just have to keep pushing hard, and try to put ourselves in the best possible position."

After he spoke, Rahal returned to the track to qualify 13th, of 23 cars, for the first race, Saturday.

Rahal, 25, is the son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion and IndyCar team owner Bobby Rahal. Force, 26, is the daughter of Funny Car legend John Force.

They had dated for a year when she announced their engagement on Twitter, just after Thanksgiving.

"I would have liked Courtney, obviously, to be here this weekend, because she's not racing," Rahal said. "But it's her little nephew's second birthday.

"She's back home, but that's the way these things go.

"It's busy right now, obviously. I leave from here and it's Sunday night back in L.A., and she's dragging me along to Santa Barbara for wedding planning Monday and Tuesday.

"So, wish me luck."