Newman/Haas Racing Returns to New Hampshire for First Time Since 1995
1 WIN, 1 POLE, 2 FRONT ROW STARTS & 3 PODIUMS IN 4 NEW HAMPSHIRE EVENTS
The MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 will mark the fifth race for Newman/Haas Racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The team competed in CART-sanctioned events here from 1992-1995. In total the team has earned ONE win (Nigel Mansell 1993), ONE pole (Mansell 1993), TWO front row starts (2nd – Michael Andretti 1992) and THREE podium finishes (2nd – Mi. Andretti 1992, 1995). The facility played host to one of the five Indy Racing League events in its inaugural year (Aug. 8, 1996) with Scott Sharp taking the checkered flag. It also was the site of Robbie Buhl’s first victory (Aug. 17, 1997) and Tony Stewart’s third (June 28, 1998).
Telemundo driver Oriol Servia and Sprott driver James Hinchcliffe will make their first Indy car starts here.
HAMPSON ON THE TEAM’S FOND – AND NOT SO FOND - MEMORIES AT NHMS
Craig Hampson is in his 18th season with the team and fourth as senior engineer. He is also the race engineer for the No. 06 Sprott entry for rookie James Hinchcliffe. Prior to being promoted to senior engineer, he spent the previous six seasons as a race engineer, four of which were championship-winning seasons with Sebastien Bourdais. “ We are not using the old data because in 2002 the track was repaved and the banking reprofiled,” said Hampson. “We are instead working from our simulation program. Quite a few members of our team have been with NHR long enough that we did attend the races in the early 1990s. We remember the 1993 race pretty fondly. But the 1994 race was quite disappointing - since Nigel and Mario crashed into each other!
“For the moment, we have very little information about the amount of grip on the track, or how smooth the surface is. Having not tested there, Thursday will be a learning experience for the team. The teams that did test - Ganassi, Andretti, Penske, Rahal (Mann) - they certainly have a leg up. The Ganassi and Penske teams will also have a lot of helpful information from their NASCAR operations.”
WHAT’S YOUR POINT(s)?
Telemundo driver Servia is ranked fifth in IZOD IndyCar Series point standings with 268 while Hinchcliffe is ranked 17th with 185 and is only 37 points behind Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader JR Hildebrand who is ranked tenth with 222. Hinchcliffe missed the season-opener and the opportunity to score points.
ORIOL & JAMES ON NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
“I do not know much about the track apart from watching this year NASCAR race,” said Servia. “It looked like it will be a lot of fun with an Indy car because of its long straights and tight corners. It also looked a bit bumpy on the braking zones which will provide an interesting challenge for all the engineers in the paddock to come up with a good setup. It is great that we have all day Thursday to test on it.”
“The track is another short track, but this time with tight corners and long straights,” added Hinchcliffe. “It’s kind of a paper clip shape. From what I hear from the people who have tested there, there are a few different lines around the place, so the challenge will be to figure out which one is best for qualifying and then to setup the car to run well on every line during the race.”
SERVIA AND HINCHLIFFE ON HOW TO PREPARE FOR THIS NEW TRACK?
“Well I could say I have been watching a lot of old (Indy car) races but the truth is that I haven't,” said Servia. “In all honesty the cars are so different from the 90's that I don't think there is much to learn by watching what happened in those races. The best we can do is prepare as good as we can for the test and learn a lot though the day.”
“Certainly old videos help a lot,” countered rookie Hinchcliffe. “They give you a sense of what the place looks like from onboard and also the old race footage can teach you a little bit about how the track races. I wish I had a simulator that had this track! That would help a ton!”
SERVIA AND HINCHCLIFFE ON THE BENEFIT OF THE TEAM’S PREVIOUS DATA HERE?
“I believe it will help us a little bit but again the cars and surface are so different that I wouldn't make big decisions on the setup based on what the team did 20 years ago,” said Servia. “It definitely is a good omen though to see that the team did so well then.”
“We pretty much have to treat it as a new track since it's a different car and really a different era since the team last ran there,” added Hinchcliffe. “Having said that, there may have been a trick or two that worked year to year with different cars that they have up their sleeve! We will just have to wait and see!”
WHAT IS NHMS MOST SIMILAR TO OF OUR CURRENT TRACKS?
“We will be working from our Milwaukee, Iowa, and Richmond setups” said Hampson. “The planview layout of the track is most similar to Milwaukee, though the corners are tighter and the straights longer. The banking is steeper than Milwaukee, but not as steep as Iowa or Richmond.”
“Well we are looking at it as a combination of all the mile ovals that we have been in recent times -- Milwaukee, Iowa and Richmond,” added Servia. “And we are trying to come up with a setup that would suit a bit of all of them.”
“It is a pretty flat, short track so Milwaukee is probably the closest we have on the calendar now,” added Hinchcliffe. “Loudon differs in that it has variable banking, so that opens up some different lines in the race.”
ORIOL AND JAMES ON WHETHER OUR COMPETITIVENESS AT MILWAUKEE AND IOWA WILL HELP
“We are very excited to go back to the one mile ovals as we were very competitive in our last ones,” said Servia. ‘We were on the podium in Milwaukee and in Iowa we had one of the best cars I ever had on an oval so we are really looking forward to our next challenge.”
“A new track is always a big unknown,” added Hinchcliffe. “A few guys have had the chance to test there so they will certainly have an advantage. Luckily we have a test day on Thursday to get up to speed. But we had a quick car at the other short tracks so hopefully some of that will transfer over.”
CRAIG, ORIOL & JAMES ON THE DIFFERENT SCHEDULE AT NHMS
“I very much like having the full test day, then the day off to process the data and think about the setup,” said Hampson. “We will do a much more thorough job of figuring things out. There is a problem though: we don't have enough sets of tires! We have over four hours additional track time over Milwaukee, yet by rules we only get two additional sets of tires. At a short oval, we use up a set of tires in about half an hour - maybe forty five minutes. How we're going to extract an extra four hours of running from the quantity of tires provided, I have no idea. But hey, it’s the same for everyone.”
“It will be a great help to have Thursday as a test day,” said Servia. “It would be great to run Friday also but with everybody being in the same boat it won't be too big of a deal and will give time to the teams to get better prepared for the weekend.”
“It's an interesting schedule,” added Hinchcliffe. “Obviously getting the extra track time is great; I think everyone appreciates that. Having the day off to have a think about it is certainly something the engineers will enjoy. I just think the whole team wishes this wasn't happening on a weekend of back-to-back races since it shortens everyone's break by a day!”