Indy 500: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing race report

McDONALD'S DRIVER WILSON FINISHED 27TH IN THE INDY 500 WHILE HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER RAHAL FINISHED 33RD; CONTACT ENDED BOTH RACES - McDonald's driver Justin Wilson looked forward to his return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after...

McDONALD'S DRIVER WILSON FINISHED 27TH IN THE INDY 500 WHILE HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER RAHAL FINISHED 33RD; CONTACT ENDED BOTH RACES

- McDonald's driver Justin Wilson looked forward to his return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after having raced on a portion of the track for the 2003 USGP but unfortunately his debut in the Indianapolis 500 ended due to contact after 132 of the 200 laps on the 2.5 mile track. He started from his 16th place qualifying position and was in 17th until the first caution period from Laps 8-16 for debris on the front stretch. The majority of the field took advantage of the caution and pit on Lap 10 but Wilson was unable to hear the call to pit and remained on track behind Bruno Junqueira. He held second place through the restart on Lap 16 and remained in the top three for all but two of the ensuing laps until he made his first pit stop on Lap 33. He returned to the track in 31st place and steadily worked his way up to 19th during the stint before he made his next stop on Lap 64 which put him back on the same pit strategy with the rest of the field. He returned to the track in 17th place and moved into 16th when Darren Manning pit. He held the position for the following 25 laps, including through his third pit stop on Lap 84. He dropped to 17th when Junqueira passed him but regained 16th on Lap 99 when he passed Jeff Simmons. He took over 15th place when Tomas Scheckter, who had led for 12 laps, pit. Wilson held the position through his fourth pit stop on Lap 108 and ran between 15th and 17th place as well as set the fastest lap of the race so far on Lap 128 before he lost control of the rear of the McDonald's race car on Lap 133 and made contact with the SAFER barrier between Turns 1 and 2. He earned 10 points for his 27th place finish and dropped from a 17th place rank into 20th in the IndyCar Series point standings after Round 5 of 18.

Following are his post race comments:

"It's been a great experience; I'm just disappointed I didn't make it to the end," said Wilson. "I thought I was well in my comfort zone and wasn't pushing too hard. I was just running in the pack and just trying to experiment with a few different lines trying to get a run on people because you'd often come down in the corner and wash out on the exit and you'd have to lift off and you can't pass anyone. The McDonald's car felt good and I thought everything was fine but as you start to come out of the corner I felt the back light up so I was out of the throttle and it just slowly came around and next thing I know I'm going backwards. I tried to keep the McDonald's car out of the wall, but just ran out of real estate. It's disappointing because the Newman/Haas/Lanigan team has done such a great job; they have worked so hard. I was thinking that we could just hang on and move forward slowly but it didn't end up that way."

- Hole in the Wall Camps driver Graham Rahal gained valuable experience during the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in anticipation of his first Indy 500, but his first race on the famed 2.5 mile oval was cut short after he crashed in Turn 4 while trying to avoid the slower car of fellow rookie Alex Lloyd. Rahal started from his 13th place qualifying position and pitted with the majority of the field on Lap 10 during a caution for debris o the front stretch. During the stop the airjack was disengaged during the final seconds as the new right rear tire was being put on so, in the interest of safety, the team brought Rahal back in two laps later to check the wheel which was in fact on securely. As he was at the back of the field the team elected to bring him in again at the end of the caution period to top off with fuel on Lap 15 before the race resumed. Rahal was in 22nd place on Lap 37 when he came upon the slower car of Lloyd while exiting Turn 4 and took evasive action which forced him high on the race track and into the rubber marbles produced by tire wear. He made contact with the wall and his car but was not injured. He earned 10 points for his 33rd place finish which dropped him from 10th to 13th in the IndyCar Series point standings after five races.

Following are his post race comments:

"Lloyd was really slow and I was trying to be patient there because (Mario) Moraes kept coming down on me," said Rahal. "So finally I got the opportunity to get by those few guys and I thought our car was pretty good. Lloyd, for some reason, wouldn't stay right on the bottom and when he came up just a couple of feet, I reacted slightly and just got in the marbles."

- Up Next: Wilson, Rahal and NHLR will reconvene at the team's "home track," The Milwaukee Mile for the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 on June 1. The race will be televised live in High Definition at 4 p.m. (EDT) by ABC. The race will also air live on the IMS Radio Network.

-credit: nhlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Justin Wilson , Darren Manning , Bruno Junqueira , Graham Rahal , Alex Lloyd , A.J. Foyt