Indy 500: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing month of May preview

- 26th SEASON: Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) was founded in late 1982 by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and entrepreneur Carl A. Haas and competed in the CART / Champ Car World Series (CCWS) from 1983-2007. In 2007 the team name was revised to ...

- 26th SEASON: Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) was founded in late 1982 by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and entrepreneur Carl A. Haas and competed in the CART / Champ Car World Series (CCWS) from 1983-2007. In 2007 the team name was revised to Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) to include new partner Mike Lanigan. The 2008 season will mark its first in the IndyCar Series and this will mark the first time for the team to compete in the Indy 500 as NHLR.

- 1 POLE (1987) & TWO SECONDS AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY (IMS): The 2008 entry will mark the 16th year for NHR/NHLR in the event and the third since 1995. Prior to 2008, the team prepared a total of 23 entries for drivers such as Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais. The entry of Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal in 2008 will bring the total to 25. NHR's highest finish in the Indy 500 is second place with Mario Andretti in 1985 and Michael Andretti in 1991 although team drivers have led many laps here. Mario Andretti also brought the team its highest start in the event when he won the pole position in 1987. NHR's 2004 entry of Junqueira marked the first time for the team to compete here since 1995 and they returned in 2005 with Junqueira and IMS rookie Bourdais. They have earned Rookie of the Year once, with Mansell in 1993 when he finished third.

- PREVIOUS INDY 500: Junqueira qualified 12th for the 2005 race, led two laps by conserving more fuel that the frontrunners and was in sixth place in the race when he came into contact while trying to pass A.J. Foyt IV, who was five laps down on Lap 77 of 200. Due to clever fuel strategy, he was able to run two laps longer on his previous stints than those in front of him including eventual winner Dan Wheldon who was fifth at the time. He sustained a fracture to his T-12 and L-1 vertebra and broke his left ankle. Despite no testing and limited track time, Bourdais qualified 15th for the race and was in fifth place in the final laps when he sustained a cut tire from Buddy Lazier's wing and crashed with 1.5 laps to go in the 500-mile event and finished 12th.

- FINAL INDY 500 BEFORE THE SPLIT: Prior to returning to Indianapolis in 2004 and 2005 the team competed here in 1995. Michael Andretti started 4th, led 45 of the first 77 laps and was about to lap the field but finished 25th due to suspension damage after he brushed the wall. Paul Tracy started 16th and finished 24th due to an electrical malfunction after he completed 136/200 laps.

- 791 LAPS LED IN THE INDY 500 FOR NHR: Mario Andretti led 402 laps while driving for NHR between the years of 1983-1994; Michael Andretti led 337 laps between the years of 1989-1992 and in 1995; Nigel Mansell led 34 laps between 1993-1994; Bruno Junqueira led 16 laps in 2004 and two in 2005.

- IN 500-MILE RACES: The team has earned SIX poles and FIVE wins in 500-mile races (POLES -- Mansell -- Michigan/1994, Mario Andretti -- Michigan/1993, 1992 & 1984, Indy/1987, Pocono/1987.) (WINS -- da Matta -- Fontana/2001, C. Fittipaldi -- Fontana/2000, Mansell - Michigan/1993, Michael Andretti -- Michigan/1989, Mario Andretti -- Michigan/1984.) Laps led in 500-mile races (Mario Andretti -- 29 in 1984, 107 in 1985, 170 in 1987, 1 in 1989, 22 in 1991, 1 in 1992, 72 in 1993; Michael Andretti -- 35 in 1989, 97 in 1991, 160 in 1992, 45 in 1995; Mansell -- 34 in 1993; Junqueira -- 16 in 2004, 2 in 2005).

- 106 WINS & 107 POLES: The team has earned 245 top-three finishes (1st - 106, 2nd -- 76, 3rd - 63) and 107 poles.

Driver Stats and Quotes:

JUSTIN WILSON, driver of the #02 McDonald's Dallara / Honda / Firestone:

- AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: Will be his second race here and first in the IndyCar Series (ICS) after having competed here with Jaguar in 2003 where he earned his first Formula One point in the USGP with an eighth place finish after running as high as third. He started 16th.

- HOPES TO BECOME ONE OF ONLY FOUR: He hopes to become only the fourth driver to run in the "500" as well as the USGP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Others who have done so include Jacques Villeneuve (Indy 1994-95; USGP 2000-03, 2005-06), Juan Pablo Montoya (Indy 2000; USGP 2001-06) and Tomas Enge (Indy 2005; USGP 2001).

- SO FAR IN 2008: Qualified 17th but started 15th in the season-opener in Homestead due to two cars having their qualifying speeds disallowed. Dropped one lap down when he was hit by Will Power on a restart after approx. 22 laps and had to pit to replace a deflated tire but rallied to finish 15th...Started third in his street course ICS debut in St. Pete but alternate fuel and tire strategies dictated by intermittent rain led to a ninth place finish after he led a total of 18 of 83 laps...Was the pole winner on Friday and Saturday in the Long Beach Champ Car finale and dropped to second on the start but engine failure on Lap 13 ended his race and he finished 19th ...Gained valuable experience after he was first to qualify and started 22nd in Kansas, led five laps after staying on track while others pit and finished ninth...Is ranked 17 in the point standings with 71 and is sixth in ROY.

- 2006 & 2007 RUNNER UP TO THE CHAMPION: Finished runner up in the Champ Car championship to the driver he recently replaced, four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais, in 2006 and 2007. Was a championship contender until the conclusion of the penultimate race of each season. He also finished third to NHR drivers Bourdais and Oriol Servia in 2005.

- PERSONAL: Justin Boyd Wilson was born on July 31, 1978 (29) in Sheffield, England...He married the former Julia Coggins in England on 12-29-2006 and reside in a suburb of Denver with their newborn daughter Jane Louise (born 4-12-08)...His father Keith was an amateur Formula Ford racer in England but retired before Justin was born due to a crash that broke his back and legs. Instead of taking interest in mother Lynne's love of horses, Justin followed his father's passion and began racing karts when he was eight...In order to help finance his 2003 season in Formula One, Justin created a company -- Justin Wilson PLC -- and approx. 900 investors "bought shares of Justin" which raised $2 million. A portion of his earnings go toward repaying the debt...He has conquered the challenges of dyslexia and, if he wasn't a race car driver, would be a designer of cars or etc. because he is curious about how things work or how to improve them...Hobbies include cycling, miniature golf, video games, karting and trying to fly one of his two RC Helicopters...He spends his free time plotting and completing home improvement projects as well as trying to find time to mow the yard between races...His typical day begins at 7 a.m. and he calls the U.K. and checks his email before spending an hour at his local gym with Julia. After lunch he rides his bike for 1.5 hours and devotes the remainder of the day to home projects, reading 50+ pages of NHLR engineering reports and hanging out with friends...At 6' 3-1/2" he is the tallest IndyCar Series driver...Listens to Coldplay, Stereophonics, The White Stripes and dance music.

GRAHAM RAHAL, driver of the #06 Hole in the Wall Camps Dallara / Honda / Firestone:

- AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: Will be his second race here and his first IndyCar Series race after he competed in the IndyPro Series race in 2006. He won pole and led 21 laps en route to a second place finish during the US Grand Prix.

- YOUNGEST WINNER IN SERIES HISTORY: Became the youngest winner in IndyCar Series history when he drove to victory in his IndyCar Series debut in St. Pete at the age of 19 years and 93 days old. The previous mark was held by Marco Andretti who won at Infineon Raceway at 19 years, 167 days old. Rahal had only run 10 laps at testing speed in an ICS car on a road course (Sebring) due to a pre-race three hour test (4-1) being cancelled due to rain. Nelson Philippe holds the Champ Car record for his '06 win in Australia at 20 years, two months and 29 days old. With his second place finish in Houston in 2007, he became the youngest Champ Car driver (1979-2007) to finish on the podium at 18 years, three months and 18 days.J

- SO FAR IN 2008: Missed the series opener in Homestead due to a lack of time and parts to repair his lone race car after a testing crash the Tuesday prior to race day...Progressed to Group 2 in qualifying for his debut on the street course in St. Pete but was unable to get a clear lap and qualified ninth. The race began under caution while standing water was cleared and once the green flag flew he progressed up to third place before his first pit stop a race that saw multiple pit strategies. He was hit on Lap 37 by Will Power which caused a spin and he dropped to 23rd but the team elected to gamble and keep him on track while others pit on Lap 60 under caution and he moved into second before the restart on Lap 65 and took the lead and held it through two more restarts including one with three laps to go while holding off two-time St. Pete winner Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan. He won by a 3.5 second margin to become the youngest winner in series history at 19 years, 93 days old after he led a total of 19 of the 83 laps and moved to fourth in the standings...Started ninth in Champ Car series finale in Long Beach and was up to fourth when he was alongside Franck Montagny during an attempt to pass for third and was spun which dropped him back to 12th place. While setting the fastest laps of the race, he charged through the field and into seventh before he hit the tire barrier on the final lap to drop to 13th place and ninth in the ICS standings and second in the ROY by 17 points...Made his oval debut in Kansas, qualified 20th and finished a competitive 12th only one lap down to the leaders...Is ranked 10th with 88 points and second in ROY.

- PERSONAL: Graham Robert Rahal, 19, was born in Columbus, Ohio on 1-4-1989 and resides in New Albany, Ohio...The 6'2" driver is one of four children of Bobby Rahal, three-time open wheel champion, Indy 500 winner and Hall of Fame race car driver...Has two sisters (Michaela and Samantha) and one brother (Jarrad)...Became the youngest IndyCar Series winner with his victory in his series debut in St. Pete on 4-6-08 and appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" on 4-16-08 to discuss the feat...Graduated from New Albany High School with a 3.8 GPA on 6-3-07 despite missing over 80 days of school that year due to racing. ESPN The Magazine covered his graduation... When not racing he likes to work on cars, hang out with friends and family or play other sports for fun...Is a self-proclaimed "Car Guy" and still has the first car he received when he was 16 -- a Subaru WRX sti -- and is in the process of turning it into a race car with a Cosworth race engine. He purchased an '07 Atomic Orange Corvette Z06 with his prize money but later sold it and now has an '07 Ron Fellows limited edition Corvette Z06 as well as an '08 Chevy Trailblazer SS. In addition he has a 1964 Mini Cooper that he restored for his high school senior project. He also temporarily owned a Porsche GT3 and an Audi he earned by graduating high school with a GPA of 3.5 or above...To prepare for the physicality of racing he spends many hours doing cardiovascular training and weightlifting, skiing, running or bicycling...His favorite type of clothing is anything made by Puma... His favorite food is sushi and his weaknesses are ice cream and white chocolate mocha drinks at Starbucks...His favorite books are those written by Lance Armstrong (and anything he read other than for school)...His favorite thing to watch on TV is any Ohio State Buckeye game, his favorite actor/actress are Owen Wilson and Eva Longoria and favorite movie is "Wedding Crashers."

What They're Saying About...

JUSTIN WILSON, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "I'm going into the month of May with no expectations and work it out myself, find my feet and hopefully things will be good for the McDonald's team. If you have too many expectations it can cloud your vision, so I will take it as it comes. I'm looking forward to my first time around the Indianapolis oval and getting to experience what the car is like with low downforce around such a large circuit. It will be interesting to see how we compare. Hopefully we can learn throughout the rookie test and to get up to speed the right way and feel comfortable. There are a lot more cars this year so we want to make sure we do everything right and take it day by day."

GRAHAM RAHAL, #06 Hole in the Wall Camps Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "I'm excited about getting to Indianapolis. I've been going there since I was about five years old. It's going to be a great challenge on the track. It's going to be a long month but it's exciting to be involved in my first one. As far as goals for the month go, I think we need to be realistic. We are getting closer to the others but certainly we are still a ways off. We need to find some speed and that is going to be important to achieving our goals. Fortunately for us there is a whole month to try to work on the setup and get stronger and stronger. It's a 500-mile race and anything can happen over that time and we need to keep that in mind. We are going to try to keep our goals realistic and have a good month."

-credit: nhlr

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series INDYCAR