NHR Aims to Repeat 1-2 Finish from Previous Race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
THREE WINS & SIX PODIUMS IN FIVE RACES FOR NHR IN LAS VEGAS; THIRD AT LVMS
The last time Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) competed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), they earned a 1-2 finish with Sebastien Bourdais and Oriol Servia and started from pole (Bourdais) in 2005. In total NHR has earned three wins (Sebastien Bourdais 2004-2005, Mario Andretti 1983), one pole (Bourdais 2005) and six podium finishes in the five CART/Champ Car races that have been held in Las Vegas (2nd – Servia 2005, Junqueira 2004, Ma. Andretti 1984) and finished second in one of the two races they didn’t win. The team most recently competed on a temporary street course in downtown Las Vegas in 2007, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2004 & 2005 and on a temporary road course around Caesars Palace in 1983-1984. Telemundo driver Oriol Servia will make his third start at the track and second with NHR while Sprott driver James Hinchcliffe will compete in his first race here.
ORIOL AND JAMES ON ENDING THE SEASON IN LAS VEGAS
The IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda race week kicks off on Wednesday, October 12, with an IZOD IndyCar Series full-field autograph session at Macy's at Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip. Also that evening is the Graham Rahal Race for Research karting event at Pole Position Raceway that will benefit Paul Newman’s Association of Hole in the Wall Camps. Servia and Hinchcliffe will take part in the event in honor of the team’s late founder Paul Newman. Parties, a charity blackjack tournament and race car parade on the Strip also are scheduled. A complete list of the week's activities can be found at www.indycarworldchampionships.com.
“It wouldn't be the first time that after the last race of the season teams want to party and celebrate either a great season or party to forget a terrible one, either way Las Vegas will fit the needs,” said Servia. “Joking aside, Las Vegas is a great city filled with shows and entertainment and it is a great home to have the season finale. At same time it provides the perfect environment to do all sorts of extra activities to promote the race and IndyCar in general. There has been a lot of well deserved energy for this one.”
“I don't think there is a more fitting place to end the season than Las Vegas,” added Hinchcliffe. “The city has such a cool feel and atmosphere, and so does IndyCar now with the championship to be decided in the last race again. I love that we are getting there early and really getting a lot of promotion and doing a lot of events. It's getting everyone excited for the weekend for sure.”
WHAT’S YOUR POINT(s)? \Telemundo driver Servia locked up a fourth place rank in 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series point standings with 425 points with one race to go. Servia is ranked No. 1 in the Laps Completed category after having completed 2,103 of 2,111 possible laps to date. Hinchcliffe is ranked 12th with 302 points and took the lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings at the previous race in Kentucky over JR Hildebrand who is ranked 14th with 296. Hinchcliffe missed the season-opener and the opportunity to score points at that event and is only 12 points out of a top-10 rank (Danica Patrick, 10th place with 314).
JAMES ON HIS APPROACH TO THE SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BATTLE AT LVMS \“My approach is really the same as any other weekend,” said Hinchcliffe. “We are going out to do the best job we can. If you start thinking too much about where you have to finish or whatever it can really distract you from doing your job. We will give the whole weekend our best effort and see where we fall. I'm just really grateful to even have a shot at it going into the last race after having missed the first race. It's a testament to how strong this team is and what we were able to get done.”
ORIOL ON SAVORING INDYCAR AND CLINCHING FOURTH FOR THE 2011 SEASON \“It has been an amazing comeback-year story,” said Servia. “Newman/Haas has always been a top front runner team and I feel proud to have been part of this great season. Clinching fourth with still one race to go and with one of the toughest fields of the last 100 years shows how well and how hard the whole team worked and delivered. We have savored IndyCar at its best and it tastes great!”
ORIOL AND JAMES ON WHAT LVMS IS SIMILAR TOO \Both drivers agree that the track is similar to one that the series recently competed on. “The track itself is mostly similar to Chicagoland where we had great performances in the past,” said Servia. “I haven't raced here before, but I think Chicago is probably the closest thing to Las Vegas Motor Speedway,” added Hinchcliffe. “Having said that, since it is similar to Chicago and to a lesser extent Kentucky and since Newman/Haas Racing has been able to produce some quick Indy cars at those tracks, hopefully we can roll out strong this weekend.”
ORIOL ON HIS PAST EXPERIENCE AT LVMS & BEING WITHIN THREE FEET OF VICTORY
This will be Oriol’s third race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and second with NHR. In 2005, he started second, led six laps and finished second to teammate Bourdais to bring NHR a 1-2 finish. In 2004 he started 18th, led four laps and finished 12th with Dale Coyne Racing.
“In 2005 I had a great race with Newman/Haas and a great shot at winning it,” said Servia. “We had a very fast car and I really thought I had a perfect plan to get to the line first but my teammate Seb Bourdais beat me to the line by three feet!”
ORIOL ON HIS PRE-SEASON GOALS & ACCOMPLISHING “ALL THAT AND A LITTLE BIT MORE”
“I knew how good the team always is and I had confidence in my abilities but I really didn't know what to expect in terms of final standings,” said Servia. “To be up there at the end of the championship requires a lot of consistency at all types of tracks and I wasn't sure what our weak points would be. It turned out that we had some great races on all types of tracks plus great strategy and, more importantly superb reliability. You need all that and a bit of luck to finish in the top five and I am very proud because we actually did all that and a bit more. We had not one wind tunnel or shaker rig test and our performance was as good as the best many weekends. The work done behind the scenes has been immense. Newman/Haas has a magic way of working that no other team in the paddock has and I am lucky to be part of that machinery.”
ORIOL ON HAVING NOTHING TO LOSE IN FIGHT FOR A “CLEAR WIN” AT LVMS
“I told Bruno (Couprie) my engineer at the beginning of the season that I didn't care about the championship position and all I wanted was to focus on winning one. Well... I didn't care if it was maybe too strong of a statement at the time because I thought we were going to be around tenth in points in which case it didn't really matter. But when we realized we had a shot at finishing in the top five it became a nice goal. I still wanted to win more than anything else and in a way -- Mr. Barnhart will have to forgive me for this one -- we did finish first in New Hampshire, it was a shame that it got reverted. To make clear that we did win one, we are focusing on doing it again this weekend in Las Vegas. I have never been in a position like this one where I have nothing to loose in my points position. That puts us in a great place to approach the race in terms of setup, driving and especially strategy. It gives us the perfect opportunity to finish the season like best Vegas movies: "All In!"
JAMES LIKES WHAT HE SAW AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
“I've only seen one race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was a Champ Car race there and Newman/Haas won! Hopefully that's a good sign. But the track looks like it really produces some great races, a lot of side-by-side action and that's what we love as drivers and I think it's what the fans are looking for too. If you look at our last race at Kentucky, everyone I spoke to said that they were on the edge of their seat for the last 20 laps and I think we will see more of that this weekend.”
ORIOL AND JAMES ON PREDICTIONS FOR COMPETITIVENESS AT LVMS
“This year we seem to not have been that great at our predictions so I will not say this time,” remarked Servia. “I will say this though, we are not going to Las Vegas just to participate!”
“It's 50/50! We have had two 1.5 mile ovals this year,” added Hinchcliffe. “Texas, the first, was among our least competitive weekends of the year. Kentucky, last weekend, was one of our best with both cars qualifying, racing and finishing well. So who knows?! I would hope that the gains that we made in between Texas and Kentucky are genuine and so hopefully we can have another strong showing.”
ORIOL AND JAMES OF THE ADDITIONAL CHALLENGE OF THE LARGEST FIELD OF THE SEASON
Previously, the largest field of the season was 33 at the 2011 Indianapolis 500. There are 34 cars entered in the Las Vegas Indy 300 which adds additional challenges.
“It is awesome to have so many cars,” said Servia. “It would probably be great to have so many all season! It becomes a big challenge in many ways. Strategy for example becomes a lot more difficult because if you pick the wrong one and you get to the back of the pack you may have a long day ahead. It does have a lot of positives too. A lot more people can win it and the track will be action packed everywhere which usually translates to a great show for the fans.”
“The biggest challenges are dealing with some of the cars that haven't been running all year,” added Hinchcliffe. “Some of these drivers we haven't raced much against so you don't know what to expect from them and how they will react in certain situations. It will also make pit lane VERY busy, and as we saw last race, that can really make a difference for the drivers and team.”
JAMES ON HIS PREDICTIONS FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE
“I think the race is going to be awesome! With the (points) title this close and with the speed we saw out of both Will and Dario at the last race I don't think anyone heads into here with too much of an advantage,” said Hinchcliffe. “I think this one will be decided on the last lap. I almost wish I could be in the stands watching! Almost...”