INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 12, 2008 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, KV Racing Technology 2. HVM Racing confirms IndyCar Series participation for 2008 3. Season Preview: Rahal ...
INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 12, 2008
Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, KV Racing Technology 2. HVM Racing confirms IndyCar Series participation for 2008 3. Season Preview: Rahal Letterman Racing 4. Conquest Racing enters technical partnership with Forsythe Performance Research
1. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing drivers Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson and KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser and drivers Oriol Servia and Will Power were guests on today's Indy Racing League teleconference.
They said what...? Listed below are select quotes from today's teleconference
Q: Graham, two parter. Considering you joined the IndyCar Series, you'll be driving along side Marco Andretti and A.J. Foyt, IV, have you given it any thought you'll be part of a second coming of sorts for many of these great oval names of the past? And if so, do you feel like you've got some outside pressure for that fact, or are you just trying to focus on yourself and just sticking to your own ways here?
GRAHAM RAHAL: For me at this point I'm just trying to focus at the task at hand. Obviously for the fans it's exciting you have the Foyts and Andrettis and Rahals racing against each other once again. To be completely fair, do I expect to run with them initially? No. Obviously I'd love to be able to say yes, I can go out there and do that.
But with my lack of experience on these ovals, it's certainly going to be a tough thing. I'm looking forward to getting back there with Marco (Andretti). I've raced with him in the past. He's obviously a very good driver and looking forward to racing with him again.
Like I said, at this point we need to focus on our job as a team at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and look at certainly put aside things like beating Marco and A.J. (Foyt IV). As much excitement as that may offer for us, at the end of the day we want to go out there and beat everybody. That does include beating them as well.
Q: Looking ahead at 2008, obviously you had a real successful career in Champ Car especially finishing second in the last two years. With the loss of Sebastian (Bourdais) you would have been considered the favorite this season. What do you set your expectations and goals for 2008?
JUSTIN WILSON: Like Graham said, it's going to be tough. We've got a long road ahead of us trying to work everything out. The guys are working very hard right now. So it's hard to understand what kind of goal to put on it. But our aim is, or my personal aim is, to do the best we can, whether that is trying to get a podium or pick up race wins. I don't want to overestimate and I don't want to underestimate. We've got to judge the competition when we get there and be realistic. And not get carried away. These first few races will be very difficult. The short time we've had to get the cars prepared and the lack of information we have as far as set up wise, we don't have years of experience setting these cars up.
So that takes time. And I'm pretty confident that I'm in the right place being with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, that we can work it out.
Q: Can you give us an update of how things are coming together since the unification announcement a couple of weeks ago.
JIMMY VASSER: As you can imagine, having just spoken with Justin and Graham, that all the Champ Car teams are absolutely flat out, it's a huge undertaking, and we're working around the clock seven days a week just to get prepared for first the test at Sebring, which I think we'll make but it will probably be difficult for all the Champ Car teams that are switching over to be there. And then subsequently on the road for back to back races at Homestead and St. Petersburg. So it is what it is and we're working real hard.
I think there aren't many people out there that won't agree this is the best thing for the sport of IndyCar racing, for the future. The timing probably wasn't the best, but we have our heads down and we're looking forward to getting on track.
Q: Oriol, you had an opportunity to race on a few ovals. I know Milwaukee, as Will mentioned, and maybe Phoenix and a couple of others. Will it take a while to feel comfortable getting up to speed on the ovals?
ORIOL SERVIA: For sure I'm a little rusty. I must say I was good in the ovals in Indy Lights in 1998 and '99. In CART, we had ovals there. I have good experience in ovals. I always enjoyed them and had a great time.
But, again, it's going to take a little bit and myself and the team to remember all the important things and make sure we don't make mistakes, which is what, in an oval, we'll go through the most.
So I'm excited. I'm excited to start. Maybe I would like, I would prefer to have a street or road course before we hit the oval, but the schedule is what it is going to be. This is going to be our first one. Hopefully we'll be ready. And, like I said, we're not going to make mistakes, which would be the biggest problem for us at the beginning of the season.
Q: Will, you're coming from last season, you had a rookie teammate and familiar surroundings with the crew and the team. And now you're moving to a brand new team with two members you don't know. At least Oriol is a seasoned driver, with experience on ovals and road courses. If you could talk a little bit about what it's like to move into such a brand new situation because you also have new cars and new tracks as a challenge.
WILL POWER: Yes, makes me feel like a rookie again. It's tough leaving a team where you've had a group of guys around you. And the good thing is that my engineer has actually, he's moved across and that will be good to work with him again. But I'm looking forward to the challenge. And I think it's good having Oriol as a teammate with a lot of experience on ovals and road courses.
And I think between us we'll be able to speed up the transition and really get the hang of these cars. So it's all coming together at the last minute. It's going to be tough. But I'm up for the challenge. And at the end of the year I want to be running like the sun.
There's more: The complete transcript and complete audio recording in MP3 format are available at www.indycar.com/media. Please contact IRL Public Relations for log-in information if necessary.
*** 2. HVM Racing confirms IndyCar Series participation for 2008: The team that has competed in the Champ Car World Series since 2001 under various banners such as Herdez Competition, HVM Racing, CTE Racing/ HVM, and most recently Minardi Team USA, announced it will enter a new era for both the team and American open-wheel racing by joining the IndyCar Series in 2008. The team, run by Keith Wiggins, will return to its HVM Racing name for this milestone event.
The entire team is hard at work after taking delivery of their first Dallara chassis March 11 and are preparing for the Open Tests in Florida before the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway March 29.
"We will field three cars at Long Beach in April under the Minardi Team USA banner, along with the other Champ Car teams, but our focus now is getting up to speed with the Dallara as soon as possible," Wiggins said. "Announcements will follow in the coming days regarding who will pilot our cars in Long Beach and for the 2008 IndyCar (Series) season. We are looking forward to this new chapter in our book, and will tackle this challenge with the same integrity that we always have."
3. Season Preview: Rahal Letterman Racing: Ryan Hunter-Reay is looking forward to his first full season in the IndyCar Series. The 27-year-old took over the seat of the Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol car two-thirds of the way through the season in 2007 and immediately produced strong results.
Hunter-Reay finished seventh in his debut at Mid-Ohio and sixth on the two-mile oval at Michigan. He ended the season with a seventh at Chicagoland. This year, the team hopes to take the No. 17 car into Victory Lane.
"Ryan gave our team a big boost last season, especially on the road courses, and we look forward to having him for a full season of IndyCar racing," team co-owner Bobby Rahal said. "He and the team have jelled together nicely and have worked very hard through all of our preseason tests so we expect both Ryan and the Ethanol Rahal Letterman Racing car to move up the grid in 2008."
"My basic goals for '08 are podiums and hopefully a win," Hunter-Reay said. "We have to build on what we did last year. We have really, really stiff competition. (Team) Penske, (Target Chip) Ganassi (Racing), (Andretti Green Racing) are going to come back stronger than ever. It's tough. We've got our work cut out, but if we just keep going down the road we're going on, keep the chemistry we have on the team, keep building I see no reason why we can't have some great results this year. I'd like to be consistent looking at it from a championship perspective, not all over the board."
Hunter-Reay also will have his first opportunity to compete in the Indianapolis 500, an event team co-owner Bobby Rahal won in 1986.
"I think about it regularly," Hunter-Reay said. "That puts you in a strange place mentally. Because the race is so important, there's so much focus. But you're there for a whole month so you have all this pressure that just builds and builds and builds. So it will be interesting, especially the first year. I'm sure it's pretty nerve-wracking. Having been there and been in that place, and how it's just bigger than life when you get in there, it's a unique situation for me. I'm really going to enjoy it."
Rahal Letterman Racing Capsule
Car Number: 17
Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay, 27, Boca Raton, Fla.
Team Manager: Scott Roembke
Chief Engineer: Neil Fife
Chief Mechanic: Ricardo Nault
2007 Review (2 cars)
Top 5: 3
Top 10: 18
Laps Led: 21
Best Start: 1st (Texas)
Best Finish: 3rd (Iowa, Michigan)
Running at Finish: 28
4. Conquest Racing enters technical partnership with Forsythe Performance Research: Conquest Racing took another step in its quest to become a contender in the IndyCar Series, signing a technical partnership with Forsythe Performance Research, a wholly owned subsidiary of Forsythe Racing Inc., one of open-wheel racing's top organizations.
The new alliance with Forsythe Performance Research will provide the team with technical and engineering resources for the 2008 season.
"We are working very hard on our transition from Champ Car to the IndyCar Series and we are excited about this partnership with Forsythe Performance Research," said team owner Eric Bachelart. "Their knowledge and experience will accelerate our efforts of becoming a front-running team in the IndyCar Series."
The 2008 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 2008 schedule, one of the most diverse in all of motorsports, features races on ovals, permanent road courses and temporary street circuits, all broadcast worldwide through a comprehensive, long-term agreement with ESPN. All races in 2008 will be telecast in High Definition. The 2008 Indy Pro Series season also begins on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 16-race schedule, which features eight ovals and four road/street course doubleheader weekends, will be televised by ESPN2.