Indy 500: Newman/Haas Racing 450th start quotes

INDIANAPOLIS 500 TO MARK THE 450TH EVENT FOR NEWMAN/HAAS RACING; PART 2 OF QUOTES FROM VARIOUS EMPLOYEES ON THE MILESTONE Indianapolis (May 28, 2010) --- The 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 will mark the 450th Indy car event for Newman/Haas...

INDIANAPOLIS 500 TO MARK THE 450TH EVENT FOR NEWMAN/HAAS RACING; PART 2 OF QUOTES FROM VARIOUS EMPLOYEES ON THE MILESTONE

Indianapolis (May 28, 2010) --- The 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 will mark the 450th Indy car event for Newman/Haas Racing since their first season of competition in 1983. After 107 wins, 109 poles and 248 top-three finishes the team will reach a milestone at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The team has started from pole once (1987) in Indianapolis and has finished as high as second here (1985, 1991) although they have been a contender for victory and even dominated multiple races here.

Newman/Haas Racing has won six 500-miles races at Michigan International Speedway and California Speedway but winning the Indy 500 is still a goal for the team. The most recent 500-mile wins came in 2000 (Christian Fittipaldi, $1 million purse) and 2001 (Cristiano da Matta, $1 million purse) at California Speedway. The team also won the 500-mile events at Michigan International Speedway in 1984 (Mario Andretti), 1989 (Michael Andretti) and in 1993 (Mansell). The team won poles for 500-mile races at Indianapolis (1987; Mario Andretti), Michigan (1984 -- Mario Andretti, 1992 -- Mario Andretti, 1993 -- Mario Andretti, 1994 -- Mansell) and Pocono (1987 -- Mario Andretti).

Part 2 of a two-part release on the team's 450th race includes quotes from Craig Hampson who is in his 17th season with the team, is from Bridgewater, N.J. and is in his third year in the capacity of senior engineer. For the previous six seasons he was a race engineer, four of which were championship-winning seasons with Sebastien Bourdais. Colin Duff is in his 25th season with the team, is from Perth, Scotland and is the work shop manager. Tim Coffeen is in his 22nd season with the team, is from Indianapolis and is the lead mechanic on Mutoh's car. He was chief mechanic for Justin Wilson in 2008 and Robert Doornbos and Oriol Servia in 2009. Tim Homburg is in his 18th season with the team, is from Madison, Wis., and is a tire specialist.

WHAT DOES THIS MILESTONE SAY ABOUT THE TEAM?

Hampson: "I've only been here for about half of it - but even that makes me feel old. Newman/Haas Racing is the only place I've ever had a "real job" and I'm sure it's a lot more exciting and interesting than the usual "real job." I hope it can continue for another 450 races!"

Duff: "Carl and Berni's dedication, for all of the years, made this team really good. We had a lot of security and they made this team a family of guys that came together with one goal -- to win. This whole thing just builds and builds. The longer we keep going, the better it gets. For me, we need at least another 50 races so I can retire. To be with the team when it reaches 500 starts would be quite something."

Coffeen: "What Carl and Berni Haas and Paul Newman started almost 30 years ago with a determination and a love of automobile racing that they have has been tremendous. There have been ups and downs over the years and they have never given up. It sure would be nice to do something for them this May."

Homburg: "It doesn't seem like it's the 450th race for the team; they all kind of blend together. What it does show is the dedication of Paul Newman and Carl and Berni Haas to keep this team going this long. There are a lot of teams that have faded away after a short time and the owners stuck it out."

WHAT NHR ACCOMPLISHMENT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF:

Hampson: "My first win with the team was with Michael Andretti at Toronto in 1995. It was pretty cool because the telemetry didn't work, and we had to figure the fuel manually the whole race, with Michael reading it off the dash and telling us over the radio. It was a tight fuel race,and so it was very exciting that it all worked out. The 1994 season was a real disappointment as we all got steamrolled by Penske. It was nice to finally win.

"I really enjoyed my time with Cristiano da Matta. He was a super person to work with, very fast -- a winner, and he really helped us to develop our car in the two years he was here. Obviously it was pretty special working with Sebastien Bourdais for so long. Brands Hatch was his first win, and my first win as a race engineer. And we followed it up just one week later on the oval in Germany. Our first championship together was really great - clinching against Bruno in Mexico City and then after that the pressure was on to try and win more and more. I am also proud of what we did with the spec chassis in 2007. They said the Panoz would level the playing field, but instead we won eight races and took the championship again. It was nice to have the best driver!"

Coffeen: "I myself have been a mechanic on three championship winning teams: Michael's title in 1991 was the first championship I was able to participate in as a crew member and that was very special. When Nigel came from Formula One and won the title in 1993 was great and of course Cristiano's title in 2002. Sebastien won four in a row as we know which was great. Losing PL (Newman) in 2008 after winning four straight championships 0xd880^0x3809 know he enjoyed those very much, so that meant a lot."

Homburg: "One of the accomplishments I am most proud of is when Cristiano won the championship (2002). We won it with Nigel (1993) and then there was a long dry spell and when Cristiano won, we had the success continue with Sebastien (Bourdais) and so forth. Cristiano's title kind of broke the ice and got us back on track."

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INDY 500 MEMORY:

Hampson: "Indy has been nothing but heartbreak for us. So what was our best moment? Qualifying, I guess. To earn fourth place with Graham was good last year. The good starting position of fourth place with Bruno in 2004 was really pleasing after 10 years away from Indy.

"We had a good finish with Bruno in 2004, but our car was not good in the race. We made a good call on the strategy. So while it was a good result, as a race engineer I can't really claim that one, because the car didn't handle all that well initially."

Duff: "Winning pole in 1987 as the chief mechanic for Mario was special and winning the pit stop competition are my favorite memories at Indy."

Coffeen: "I don't have one. We've had a lot of heartbreak here. Three times cars that I worked on here looked like they were going to win but didn't. I was on another team in 1987 but I remember watching those guys push Mario up pit lane and especially remember the devastated look in their eyes. And I remember the disappointments we have had with Michael and Nigel here. I'm not being negative about it; I'm just saying we would like to get something done here! We've got some unfinished business at Indianapolis Motor Speedway!"

Homburg: "Qualifying fourth last year was a good thing because we were still fairly new at this (ICS) and taking into consideration how much of a struggle we had the year before with the transition, and, to all of a sudden get to that point was definitely a high spot."

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT YOU HAVE WITNESSED AT NHR:

Hampson: "Clearly the worst memory of Indy is what happened to Davey (Evans) exactly two years ago. I'd never experienced anything like that.

"Regarding on track opportunities -- where should I start? With Nigel in 1994, we were the only car keeping up with the Penske's but we were doing it on better fuel mileage. We might have been able to steal it by making one less pit stop but Dennis Vitolo fell from the sky on top of our car. With Mikey in 1995, the car was really good and we were on our way to lap the field but he got wide passing someone off Turn 4 and bounced it off the wall. The front suspension was all bent up and we were out. In 2005 Bruno Junqueira got hurt so that was really bad. It was no fault of his own; AJ IV misjudged it and clipped him. To make it doubly worse, the car was really good and I think Bruno was on his way to winning the race, because he was running the fuel as lean as possible.

"In 2005 I was running Sebastien and our car wasn't as good and Seb was a rookie here. But he figured it out during the race and was picking off cars as we went. At the very end, we were in the dice with Herta and Danica, who were having to save fuel. I'm quite sure we were going to get by Danica and possibly get Rookie of the Year for Seb but we got chopped and, when Seb checked up, Lazier got our rear tire with an endplate. The tire went down quickly and Seb crashed in the next turn so we went from a likely third to another wrecked car.

"And finally last year was pretty disappointing. Graham had a good car and he was right with Helio, who won the race, but he got wide passing Milka off line, and into the wall. You just cannot get off line at Indy; you're sure to crash. I just hope having a good car last year will hold over into 2010."

Duff: "My biggest disappointment was in 1991 when Michael leading most of the race but finished second to Mears. That was the most disappointing for me because we thought we had it won. The loss when Mario was two laps ahead in 1987 was disappointing as well but the one with Michael in 1991 was a big disappointment for me."

Homburg: "A couple of them were here at Indy. One frustrating one was when Nigel came here in 1993 and had such a good race going and was leading near the end and got passed on a restart. It was disappointing because he had the fastest car and it had been a good day, but not quite perfect. Then in 1995, Michael was just about to lap second place and thumped the wall. That could have been a really good day too."

Coffeen: "The biggest disappointment for me at Indy was in 1992, absolutely! Michael dominated the race. He started sixth and was leading in the first turn; led 160 laps and the engine died on Lap 189. We had made our last pit stop and it was clear sailing. We had run the fastest lap of the race at 229 and was six miles an hour faster than anybody all day. That was heartbreaking; it really hurt. You pick yourself up and go to Milwaukee the next weekend but its still like getting kicked in the gut. It's something that stays with you. Another one was with Michael in 1991. He had led 97 laps that day and dominated from early-on in the race after coming from a fifth place start and came through the field. He had lapped up to fifth place which was Rick Mears and then he came on the radio and said the car went really loose and then he slowed down from 217 mph to 195 mph, or whatever. We called him in and we didn't know what was wrong. In those days we didn't have tire pressure sensors but the left rear had a big cut in it and was down to eight pounds of air and was about to come off the rim and made the car very loose. We got out of sync with our fuel and had to pit under green -- didn't run the fuel out of the car -- and took two-thirds of the wing out of it because we didn't know what was making it loose so we fought the rest of the day to get the handling back. And then at the end of the day Mears got him on a restart. They raced good for a couple of laps and then Mears just drove away. That's the reason we went to the Cosworth; the Ilmor that Penske had, had so much more power than us that we had to do something. The next year we went out and got the Cosworth and just dominated the race but broke 10 laps from the end. And then we didn't come here for years and years. You try to keep your emotions even keel at Indy but every one means so much more, especially since we missed so many during the split. You try not to get too high, get too low. But it's easy to say and hard to do. This place is a meat grinder; you have to be mentally tough."

-source: nhr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Paul Newman , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Cristiano da Matta