Indy 500 2012: Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti Carry On Families' Longstanding Rivalry

When Graham Rahal was a kid, he noticed a picture of Michael Andretti on the wall of the family's fitness room. It was an odd sight, considering Rahal's father, Bobby, was one of Andretti's biggest rivals.

As it turned out, the picture had a purpose: Bobby Rahal, a three-time IndyCar champ, would stare at Andretti's image to get motivated during workouts.

Now that the rivalry between fathers has been passed onto the sons – Graham and Marco Andretti – Rahal doesn't think anyone should be surprised.

"That's the way it's always been," Graham Rahal said Thursday on Indy 500 Media Day. "And people now are like, 'Oh my God, they don't like each other!' It's like, 'What's the big deal?'"

Even while coming up the open-wheel ladder in the Star Mazda Series, Rahal said his team's goal was to be faster than Andretti in every single practice session.

Why?

"He's an Andretti," Rahal said matter-of-factly.

The Rahal/Andretti rivalry added a new chapter last month, when the drivers were involved in an incident at Long Beach.

When it appeared Andretti may have had position to make a pass on Rahal, the two collided and the contact briefly sent Andretti airborne.

Andretti insisted Rahal came down into his racing line to block; Rahal said Andretti initiated the incident (though Rahal got a six-race probation penalty).

"What's Marco's last name?" Rahal told the Associated Press at the time. "I've said enough."

The two haven't made much progress in figuring out who was at fault in the weeks since.

"I still don't agree with him on the whole Long Beach incident, nor do about 80 percent of the people I've talked to," Rahal said Thursday, sitting in a Media Day booth adjacent to Andretti's. "But it doesn't matter."

"I'll be stuck in my ways til the day I die on that one," Andretti said. "Was there a little respect lost because he didn't own up to it? A little bit, yeah. But we still have that mutual respect."

"He's still all worked up about it," Rahal said. "To me, I don't even care anymore. Like forget it."

Their relationship has an interesting dynamic. Is it possible for two people to have a mutual dislike for one another but share a mutual respect?

Last week, IndyCar sent Andretti and Rahal on a trip to New York to promote Sunday's 96th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Given their history, an outsider might think the interactions on the trip would be awkward.

"Awkward? No," Andretti said. "We mostly talked about business in the car and around the car. That's it."

Said Rahal: "It's not awkward. Look, he's never been a guy that I call to go to dinner with. When we're sitting there, do we carry on a great conversation? No. What am I going to say?"

"I know (a feud is) what people want," Andretti said. "There's still a mutual respect."

Whether the drivers respect one another or not, though, it doesn't mean they're rooting for each other in Sunday's Indy 500.

"I don't want to see Marco win," Rahal said.

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