McDONALD'S DRIVER WILSON AND HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER RAHAL ATTEMPT TO BRING FIRESTONE THEIR 150TH SERIES VICTORY AT SUNDAY'S DETROIT INDY GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY FIRESTONE; TEAM TO MAKE THEIR 14TH START IN DETROIT DETROIT (August 27, ...
McDONALD'S DRIVER WILSON AND HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER RAHAL ATTEMPT TO BRING FIRESTONE THEIR 150TH SERIES VICTORY AT SUNDAY'S DETROIT INDY GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY FIRESTONE; TEAM TO MAKE THEIR 14TH START IN DETROIT
DETROIT (August 27, 2008) --- Newman/Haas Racing competed in 13 CART events in Detroit from 1989 -- 2001 and earned two victories, six poles and six podium finishes with drivers Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell and Christian Fittipaldi. Renamed Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in 2007, the team hopes to add to their success on the 2.09-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle street course for the Detroit Indy Grand Prix Presented by Firestone. McDonald's driver Justin Wilson and Hole in the Wall Camps driver Graham Rahal hope to add to the team's success in Detroit and also be the one to bring series tire supplier Firestone their 150th win in IndyCar Series competition.
"Obviously the team has been here in the past but that was many years ago and a lot has changed since then," said Wilson of the different racing package the team will use on the track for the first time as well as the fourth different track configuration* for the team since 1989. "I don't think there is a lot of information that will carry over so we will just have to work it out as we go along. We have been quick on all the road courses but they have not worked out in our favor yet, especially at Infineon last week where we were very competitive the whole weekend. I'm looking forward to getting back out there and working hard to get a good result for the McDonald's team."
The Detroit Indy Grand Prix will be the sixth IndyCar Series (ICS) race on a road/street course in 2008 and the seventh for NHLR and the teams transitioning from the Champ Car World Series. While the ICS was in Japan for Round 3, Champ Car held its finale on the streets of Long Beach, with points from each event being added to the ICS season total. In the only two street races so far this season Wilson has been competitive although the results don't reflect the team's progress. He earned the provisional pole on Friday and final pole on Saturday in Long Beach before his race ended on Lap 13 due to engine failure. In St. Petersburg, despite only 10 laps of testing on a road course in the Indy car, he qualified third but alternate pit strategies in a wet-then-dry race limited his finish to 9th place. He is hoping to add another podium to his third place finish on the temporary road course in Edmonton last month.
"I'm looking forward to getting back on a street circuit for the first time since Long Beach," said Wilson. "That weekend started good with a pole position for the McDonald's team but engine failure in the race ended our day pretty quickly. Racing on the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit should be fun and a challenge. Hopefully we will pick up where we left off with the Indy car in St. Petersburg where we had a very quick car even though it was our first street race with the different racing package. I'll have to learn a track again but it's nothing we aren't already used to this year. We'll get out and go for it."
Thirteen drivers entered in the Detroit Indy Grand Prix competed in last year's inaugural IndyCar Series event at the circuit. In addition, Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia started CART races here. While the track will be the 12th new course he will have competed on of 16 this season, Rahal believes the tight confines will suit his driving style.
"I think we will be competitive this weekend on the streets of Belle Isle," said Rahal. "We won the only other street course race the IndyCar Series held this year. From that perspective, we are going to Detroit with a little more confidence. We had a good car all weekend in St. Pete and hopefully we will be able to have the same in Detroit. It will certainly be challenging for us though. Penske has been pretty dominant on all of the road courses this year but we can close the gap to them, as well as the others, with a little time. Obviously we haven't tested or raced on any street courses in the Indy car since our win in St. Pete so we will have to see how we stack up to the others and work to build on our setups from there."
Wilson is ranked 16 in the ICS point standings with 271, only 39 away from 10th place Ryan Hunter-Reay (310) while Rahal is 18th with 259. Scott Dixon, who has won six races this season, has a 43-point lead over Helio Castroneves heading into the penultimate points race of 2008. NHLR driver Sebastien Bourdais clinched his history-making fourth straight Champ Car title in 2007 at the penultimate race in Surfer's Paradise, Australia before he went on to match a series-high eight wins in one season in Mexico City.