AN EIGHTH PODIUM IN A ROW FOR MI-JACK CONQUEST RACING ATLANTIC TEAM WITH FOURTH WIN BY GRAHAM RAHAL - Contact at the start takes Ryan Lewis out of race - Denver, Colorado, August 13, 2006 -- Not since Hoover Orsi scored eight straight ...
AN EIGHTH PODIUM IN A ROW FOR MI-JACK CONQUEST RACING ATLANTIC TEAM WITH FOURTH WIN BY GRAHAM RAHAL
- Contact at the start takes Ryan Lewis out of race -
Denver, Colorado, August 13, 2006 -- Not since Hoover Orsi scored eight straight podiums in 2001, on his way to the championship title, has a team had as many consecutive podiums as the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team. The first year Atlantic squad scored their eighth consecutive podium finish today as Graham Rahal won his fourth race of the season in dominating fashion. The race was short lived however for Ryan Lewis, Rahal's teammate, as contact at the start caused damage to the right rear suspension of his Mazda-Cosworth / Swift / Yokohama car ending his day early.
The start went very well for Rahal as he remained in first, after starting on pole for a fourth time this season but it was difficult for him to build a gap as there was a series of yellow flags bunching the field up together. The teenager did take advantage of the caution period to try and resolve a problem with the gearbox that had surfaced in the morning warm-up and that had crept back at the start of the race. With the problem gone and once things started rolling again on lap 12 after a third caution period, the 17-year-old was able to maintain his lead on the restart and started building up a gap on his closest rival, Raphael Matos. Rahal was leading by more than one and a half seconds when a final yellow flag brought the field together once again.
With 13 laps to go, Rahal was able to build up a lead one more time and from that point on he never looked back. He went on to win his first street course race ahead of Matos and Series Championship leader Simon Pagenaud. After picking up two extra points for his pole positions on Friday and Saturday, Rahal picked up an additional point today by recording the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:06.945 as well as another point for leading the race. Rahal now trails Pagenaud by only 16 points going into the last two races of the season.
"On the warm-up this morning, I was following Simon (Pagenaud). I was interested to see how his car was and to see where he was stronger than me. At that point, we were just cruising along with nothing to prove. All of a sudden, I go in to Turn 5 on the last lap and the car didn't want to down-shift. Before the race, we found something and thought that that was it. But after the caution on the first lap, it did the exact same thing again. During the caution, I started messing around with the gearbox to see if I could clean it up. I figured out I just needed to be more cautious on the brakes and the only other time it did it was on the very last corner. So, even though I cruised through in a higher gear, it didn't really matter. The guys on the team did a great job. At the end of the race, we were the strongest. I could basically go 85 percent and do those lap times and when I wanted to do the 1:06, I could. I could see Raphael (Matos) was even with me and I was quicker on the back straight. I just kept working on the margin. I want to thank the guys, the team did a great job this weekend and we have a lot of confidence going into the last two races."
Ryan Lewis' weekend in Denver ended early when contact in turn one on the first lap took him out. "I had a really good start, I jumped four or five places. I was along side Danilo Dirani into the first corner but I think he got squeezed up against the wall by James Hinchcliff on the start which meant I did not have much room. When I went to turn in, I ended driving over the back of his rear wheel because our wheels were interlocked and that caused damage to the car and ended my race. What more can I say. Our next race will be taking place in a more familiar type of race track for me, so I can't wait to get to Montreal."
The Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic Team will be in Montreal August 25-27 for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal.