Indy 500: Newman/Haas Racing preview

1 POLE (1987) & TWO SECONDS AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY (IMS) The 2010 entry will mark the 18th year for the team in the event and the fifth since 1995. Prior to 2010, the team prepared a total of 27 entries for drivers such as Mario and ...

1 POLE (1987) & TWO SECONDS AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY (IMS)

The 2010 entry will mark the 18th year for the team in the event and the fifth since 1995. Prior to 2010, the team prepared a total of 27 entries for drivers such as Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira, Sebastien Bourdais, Justin Wilson, Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos. Hideki Mutoh, the fastest rookie Indy 500 qualifier in 2008 competes for the team in 2010 and will bring the total to 28. 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 a total of 791 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 qualified fourth and led 16 laps in the late stages of the race before pitting a few laps before the race ended early due to tornados. They returned again in 2005 with Junqueira, who led two laps but was injured in a crash while trying to lap a backmarker, and IMS rookie Bourdais. In 2008 they ran Wilson and Rahal here during a transition season in the series and ran Rahal and Robert Doornbos in 2009. They have earned Rookie of the Year once, with Mansell in 1993 when he finished third. See attached one page chart for complete history.

MORE ON FINISHING SECOND TWICE AT INDY

Mario Andretti led 107 of 200 laps in the 1985 Indianapolis 500 but finished second to Danny Sullivan's "Spin and Win" effort. Michael Andretti led 22 laps but stalled in the pit entrance on his final stop and finished second to Rick Mears in 1991. Nigel Mansell led 34 laps and finished third in his first (of two) Indy 500's in 1993 and was also named "Rookie of the Year" that season. NHR drivers have led a total of 791 laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is possibly the highest number of laps led by a team yet to win the legendary race.

IN 500-MILE RACES -- 5 WINS & 6 POLES

The team has won five 500-mile races. The most recent 500-mile wins came in 2000 (Christian Fittipaldi, $1 million purse) and 2001 (Cristiano da Matta, $1million 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 (Mario Andretti). 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).

PREVIOUS INDY 500: In 2009, Rahal narrowly missed a front row start and qualified fourth but retired from the race in 31st place after contact on L56 while fifth due to driving high on the track and into marbles attempting to lap Milka Duno in Turn 4. His 2008 race ended in the same turn on L36 for a similar reason. Robert Doornbos ran fast lap times in practice but crashed on Fast Friday and crashed again the following day in his backup in practice on Pole Day so he missed the first two qualifying days and had to qualify on Day 3. He set the fastest 4-lap average on Day 3 to start 23rd, the highest position available in qualifying that day. In the race, he crashed on lap L54 of 200 laps and retired in 28th place.

450TH INDY CAR EVENT FOR TEAM

The team will achieve a milestone of having competed in 450 Indy car races since their first season of competition in 1983 at the 94th Running of the Indianapolis 500. The number includes participation in CART, Champ Car, IRL Indy 500's and the IZOD IndyCar Series to date over the team's 28 seasons of competition (chart available upon request). Including the Indy 500, the team will have entered a total of 798 cars in these 450 events.

NHR ON OVALS

Since being formed by Carl Haas and Paul Newman in the fall of 1982, the team has earned a total of 107 wins and 109 pole positions. Twenty seven of their 107 wins and 19 of their 109 poles came on ovals. The team's previous win on an oval was by Sebastien Bourdais on 6-4-06 at the Milwaukee Mile. Their previous pole on an oval came here last season by Graham Rahal (4-25-09). Eight of the 17 races on the 2010 schedule are on ovals.

Hideki Mutoh, driver of the No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic Dallara-Honda-Firestone entry:

AIMING FOR ANOTHER TOP-10 AT INDIANAPOLIS AND FLAWLESS PIT STOPS

The 2010 Indy 500 will be his third event here and first Indy 500 with NHR after having driven for Andretti Green Racing, co-owned by former NHR driver Michael Andretti, for the past two seasons. In 2008 he was the Fastest Rookie when he qualified ninth and went on to finish seventh. In 2009 he started 16th and finished 10th here. He had pit problems in both events but rallied back to top-10 finishes.

"The first time I raced in Indy in 2008 I had a whole month of practice and was able to build up my speed and work on my driving style. I started ninth the first year but there was still a lot of dirty air in the draft even in the third row so the car was moving around a lot on the start so that was very tough. I would prefer to start in the top five for sure. I think I had a car to finish in the top-five but on the first pit stop I stalled my engine and went back to 27th place or something like that. The car was really good and I was able to pass a lot of people and worked my way back up to finish seventh but it would have been better if I had not made the mistake. The start in the 2009 race was even harder because there were 15 cars in front of me. And again I think I had a good race car but each pit stop we lost five or six spots in the pits and I dropped back to 22nd or 23rd and had to work my way back up to finish 10th."

MUTOH COMPETITIVE AT PREVIOUS OVAL RACE WITH NHR

The team is optimistic of being competitive again at Indianapolis after a strong run in Kansas. Mutoh qualified fourth in his first oval race with the team in Kansas but was eliminated from the race with 14 laps to go after trying to pass the slow, lapped car of Simona de Silvestra that was in the middle of the track on a restart from the third caution. There were many lapped cars in the lead pack. Mutoh, who ran fourth until his final pit stop, was in fifth place behind Kanaan with 14 laps to go and Kanaan, Mutoh and Sato were nose-to-tail on the restart. They approached the lapped car of Simona de Silvestro, who was in the middle of the track. Kanaan got past and Mutoh went alongside her on the high side of the track and then Sato put the nose of his car between Mutoh and the outside track wall. There wasn't enough room and Sato's left front tire hit Hideki's right rear tire and the two made contact with the wall.

ON BRINGING SOME JAPANESE LUCK TO NHR

"I looked at the data on the past Indy 500's for Newman/Haas Racing," said Mutoh. "The team mostly qualified well at Indy and had a good, strong race but it looks like the team didn't have enough luck. I hope I can bring some Japanese luck!"

ON THE INDY 500 BEING A "LIFE CHANGER" & CARRYING THE FLAG FOR JAPAN

In 1991, Hiro Matsushita became the first Japanese driver to start in the Indianapolis 500. He competed four times with a best start and finish of tenth in 1995. Since that time, six other Japanese drivers have competed in the Indianapolis 500. They are Hideshi Matsuda, Shinji Nakano, Shigeaki Hattori, Tora Takagi, Kosuke Matsuura and Hideki Mutoh. Tora Takagi has the best finish for a Japanese driver of fifth in 2003 after starting seventh with Mo Nunn Racing. Takagi is also the only Japanese driver to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500. He led two in 2003. Both Takagi and Matsuura have the best start for a Japanese driver of seventh. Takagi did it in 2003 and Matsuura in 2006. Hideki understands the significance of a win in the Indy 500. "To win the Indy 500 would change my life for sure. And not because I am Japanese and would be the first to win the race; your nationality doesn't matter. If you win the Indy 500, it is huge. I think I could retire after such a huge accomplishment!"

FIRST INDY 500 EXPERIENCE CAME AT THE AGE OF 10

"The first time I saw the Indy 500 was when Nigel Mansell was in the 1993 race. I watched Formula One as a child and when he came to race Indy cars for Newman/Haas I started watching Indy car racing. That was also the first Indy 500 I saw. The Indy 500 is one of the biggest races in the world so it means a lot to compete in it. Last week I was in Japan and there were over 100 media at Honda's press conference for the Twin Ring Motegi race and they asked me about the Indy 500 and the Motegi race."

"Got Milk?" ON THE MENU FOR BREAKFAST IN JAPAN ON MONDAY, MAY 31?

"The race is on live in Japan on Gaora network at 3 a.m. or something like that and my family and friends are going to watch the race. They will finish watching the race around 7 a.m. and I think that is a good time to drink some milk!"

WORKING UP TO THE HIGH SPEEDS OF INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

"The speeds are very high at Indy but the track is long so you don't feel them as much except in qualifying. Qualifying is a different scenario because you have less downforce in the car, and it feels especially different going into Turn 1 on the first lap with cold tires. You definitely notice the speed then! Fortunately the air is clean because you are alone on the track and the car is as stable as its going to be with that setup. Definitely you get more nervous qualifying for Indy over the other ovals even though it's the same format. One reason is that the Indy 500 is the biggest race, but another is because your car is trimmed out so much towards low downforce for maximum speed so that means you lose grip. Sometimes it is very nerve racking. It's very different."

-source: nhr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Justin Wilson , Shigeaki Hattori , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Tora Takagi , Nigel Mansell , Graham Rahal , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Danny Sullivan , Paul Newman , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Carl Haas , Kosuke Matsuura , Simona de Silvestro , Hideki Mutoh , Mo Nunn , Matsuda Hideshi