Fourth Time Is The Charm For Newman/Haas Racing At Iowa Speedway
The 2011 event at Iowa Speedway will mark the fourth time for Newman/Haas Racing to compete here and they hope their current momentum will help bring them improved results at the track. Hideki Mutoh competed for the team at Iowa last year. He crashed during testing at Iowa Speedway on June 9 and returned for the race the following weekend where he started 24th and retired in 20th due to handling problems. Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos competed for the team here in 2009. Rahal started ninth based on entrant points after qualifying was canceled due to water seepage and ran as high as sixth but contact with Danica Patrick forced an unscheduled stop which put him two laps down and he ultimately finished 11th. Doornbos started 14th based on entrant points. He ran sideways on the opening lap and was collected by Ryan Hunter-Reay. The team repaired his left front suspension and he returned to the track to move up three places and finished 15th. Rahal and Justin Wilson competed for the team here in 2008. Rahal started 16th and earned his highest oval finish to date of 10th while Wilson started 20th, ran as high as seventh and finished 12th. Starting positions were based on points due to rain.
Telemundo driver Oriol Servia returns to compete in his second IndyCar Series race here while Sprott driver James Hinchcliffe will compete in his first Indy car event here and third overall at the track after having competed in the 2009 and 2010 Firestone Indy Lights races.
WHAT’S YOUR POINT(s)? Telemundo driver Servia is ranked third in IZOD IndyCar Series points with 198 (-73 to leaders Franchitti and Power; tie) while Sprott driver Hinchcliffe is ranked 16th with 120 and is only 17 points behind Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader JR Hildebrand who is ranked 11th with 137. Hinchcliffe is only 21 points out of a top-10 rank despite having missed the season-opener in St. Pete.
ORIOL ON RANDOM THOUGHTS SINCE HIS PODIUM AT MILWAUKEE “I have been thinking ‘Could I have passed two more cars on the last restart?!!’ I had to finally watch the replay of the race and see that, no, there was no way I could have passed them. Passing (Will) Power was all I could do in that one. So as you can see, finishing on the podium was great and it meant a lot to me and the team but it is not yet the ultimate goal.”
ORIOL ON STAYING MOTIVATED AFTER DROPPING TO 12TH IN MILWAUKEE “Well I knew I had a good car and it was only the half way point in the race. I told myself I had been able to start tenth and move up to third in 120 laps and, well, that was almost the amount of laps left in the race so I could do it again! I knew it was going to be more difficult because I was now twelfth and the first two guys I was going to have to pass were (Scott) Dixon and (Will) Power. Regardless of the finish, I was having such a fun time driving the Telemundo colors to the front that I didn't have time to get de-motivated or motivated.”
ORIOL AND JAMES ON REBOUNDING AT MILWAUKEE AND IOWA AFTER A DIFFICULT EVENT IN TEXAS “After performing so differently in our last two ovals, we should just have no expectations at all -- good or bad -- and just show up to do the best we can and see what that is,” said Servia. “Texas was really tough on us as we had some sort of high expectations. In Indy we were so fast that we truly thought we would show some speed in Texas. Having another weekend like that in Milwaukee where we also thought we were going to be competitive would not have been good. I am glad that was not the case.” “Well Texas certainly didn't go as planned,” added Hinchcliffe. “The whole team was pretty disappointed, so to fight back and have the result we did at Milwaukee was great for everyone. I didn't know what to expect going into the weekend since I missed the test. But Oriol had a good test so I was hopeful that we could be competitive. It wasn't the smoothest weekend up to that point, so to bring home a result like that, and at what is basically the home race for the team, was a great feeling. In the last few years the team hasn't had the best run here (Iowa), so we know that as a team, Oriol, myself and the engineers need to work really hard to try and change that!”
ORIOL AND JAMES ON THE CHALLENGES OF IOWA SPEEDWAY (INCLUDING BREATHING) “Although it is a short oval, it feels more like a super speedway because of the high banking,” said Servia. “The setup of the car has to be a mix of a short oval and a big one so it gets quite complex. The banking comes at you very suddenly and aggressively so you ask a lot of the car when you are entering the corner. I remember it also being a very physical race with high steering effort and not much time to breathe.” “It's going to be crazy!” added Hinchcliffe. “This lap is so short, the shortest of the year, so everything is going to be very busy in the race. It's going to be about timing your passes and being good in traffic. Iowa is sort of like ‘Milwaukee meets Texas’ because it's a short track but with high banks. It's tough to be flat there, so it's a lot about mechanical grip and running high downforce. Like Milwaukee, you really have to drive the car in the race and have a setup that keeps the tires under you for a full stint. It’s definitely a big challenge for both the engineers and the drivers. It's also probably the most physical oval on the schedule so it will be a tough race!”
JAMES ON “FIGURING STUFF OUT” IN RACE MODE “I am learning every lap of this season -- especially during the races. You go through practice and qualifying but it really isn't until they release us all out there in the race that you really start figuring stuff out. There is always something that you can take from one event and apply to another. I think because Iowa is a short track like Milwaukee, learning to be patient and time your passes will be important there as well.”
JAMES ON HIS PODIUM AND TWO-TOP FIVE FINISHES AT IOWA SPEEDWAY The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will be James’ first here in an Indy car and third overall. He competed here in the Firestone Indy Lights Series in 2009 where he started fifth and finished third in his rookie season in the series. In 2010 he started ninth and finished fifth. On his first qualifying lap, he was quick enough for pole but on the second lap the fuel pump broke coming out of the last corner and he slowed crossing the Start/Finish line and qualified ninth.
“I've really enjoyed racing at this track. In 2009 I got my first oval podium here. In 2010 I had a run going for pole in qualifying but my fuel pump went on my second lap. I ended up starting ninth and raced into the top five. If we had started up front I think we would have had a shot at winning! So it's a track I have enjoyed in the past, but I know it will be a completely different story in an Indy car!”
ORIOL ON HIS ONLY RACE AT IOWA SPEEDWAY – “ONE OF THE TOUGHEST” HE HAS EVER DONE “I did not have a good experience on my first and only time I raced here,” said Servia who started 10th and finished 16th in 2008 here with KV Racing. “The car felt good in practice but there was a mistake on the setup for the race with the cross weight and at the time we didn't have a weight jacker in the car so I could not help matters once the race started. I was so loose. It was one of the toughest races I have ever done.”
ORIOL ON WORKING WITH RACE ENGINEER BRUNO COUPRIE, AND THE HINCH / HAMPSON DUO “I hate working with this guy and the results show it! Jokes aside, I think the way we have the engineering room setup right now at Newman/Haas could not be better. Bruno has little experience being race engineer but has many years being a fabulous assistant. I do have enough experience to know how I want my car to feel and he listens to me and is very eager to give me a setup that suits me the best. Although by luck I think that it is quite interesting that my engineer, my chief mechanic Todd Philips and myself are all the same age and the three of us have been in this business for a similar amount of time. I think we are just maturing together and we are at a perfect point in our careers where we accumulate good experience and we are still as hungry, or more than when we started. It also helps a lot the way the engineering room works at Newman/Haas. We really are all one team and having the young and articulate Mr. ‘Hinch’ with the very wise, experienced, and accomplished Craig Hampson makes the four of us a very strong combination.”
BOTH ON WHETHER THE LACK OF DATA FROM PREVIOUS RACES AT IOWA CHANGES PREPARATION “I know we are changing the setup from previous years at bit at this track, and knowing the Newman/Haas engineers and the way they work I am very confident with their choices and their educated guesses,” said Servia. “As I said, we will have to see how the car feels after a few laps but I am sure that by race time we will have a solid car.”
“I think it does it a bit,” said Hinchcliffe. “We certainly know a few things that don't work here, so that takes a few things off the list of what to try! We know that historically the team has struggled a bit, but we have had a good run of things this year, with the exception of Texas, so hopefully as a team we can work to get a strong car at Iowa and bring home a few more good results!”
JAMES ON THE ROLE OF HIS SPOTTER AND THE FREQUENT FLOW OF INFORMATION ON SHORT OVALS “It was expected, but it certainly is a lot. Because the track is so short, you are in the corners for a larger percentage of the lap, and that usually means your spotter is a little busier! Luckily my spotter Cole (Carter, a former driver and son of Indy car driver Pancho Carter) and I have a great relationship and work really well together.”