JUSTIN WILSON AND GRAHAM RAHAL TO MAKE UP NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING DRIVER LINEUP FOR 2008 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES SEASON LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (January 29, 2008) -- Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) announced today that British driver Justin ...
JUSTIN WILSON AND GRAHAM RAHAL TO MAKE UP NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING DRIVER LINEUP FOR 2008 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES SEASON
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (January 29, 2008) -- Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) announced today that British driver Justin Wilson will team with American Graham Rahal for the 2008 Champ Car World Series season. NHLR will attempt to earn their ninth series title in their 26th season of Champ Car competition.
"I am extremely pleased and proud to be joining Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing," said Wilson, 29. "For the entire time I have been competing in Champ Car, they have been the strongest team. Sebastien (Bourdais) has left pretty big shoes to fill but I have big feet! Joking aside, I am excited to have the opportunity to add to the results Sebastien and other drivers before me have achieved for the team. I am hoping to learn my environment quickly and let the results take care of themselves. I am confident that with having a team like this behind me, we can be championship contenders for 2008."
Wilson's first time to drive a Champ Car was on October 8, 2002 on the Homestead Miami Speedway oval where he tested for Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) for a possible position at the team for 2003. The test went well and he was scheduled to attend a driver shoot out for the team at Sebring International Raceway in December but withdrew to pursue an opportunity in Formula One where he ran for the Minardi and Jaguar teams in 2003. The position was ultimately taken by Sebastien Bourdais who went on to win consecutive titles for NHR/NHLR from 2004-2007.
Wilson has competed in Champ Car since 2004 when he drove for Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing and finished 11th overall in his rookie season before moving to RuSPORT in 2005. He finished third in the season-ending standings in 2005 and was runner-up to Bourdais in 2006 and 2007. He has won four races, six poles and finished on the podium 14 times in 54 starts to date.
American Graham Rahal, 19, will return to the team for his second year in the series. In 2007, he became the youngest driver in series history to finish on the podium when he drove to a second place finish in Houston and ended the season ranked fifth after a total of four top-three finishes. He also led races on three separate occasions and set the fastest lap of the race once in 14 events.
"I am really looking forward to entering my secondseasonwith such a great team, and most of all building on a solid foundation that was started last year," said Graham Rahal, 19. "I think that we should have a strong chance at winning races, capturing podiums, and hopefully earning another championship for this historic team. I think we can all look forward to new beginnings, with great new events, and keep growing the races we have had for many years. Thisseasonwill hopefully be another championship year for myself, and the whole team."
"Paul, Mike and I are excited about our lineup of Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal," said Carl Haas, co-owner with Paul Newman and Michael Lanigan, of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. "Graham ran well for us in his rookie season last year and showed the potential to win races. Over the past three seasons, Justin has consistently been one of the strongest challengers for the championship and we are now looking forward to having him represent us and again being a contender for the title."
After open tests at courses in Sebring, Florida, Houston, Texas and Monterey, California the Champ Car World Series season opens April 20 with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.