Kansas: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing preview

NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING MAKES ITS DEBUT AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY KANSAS CITY, Kan. (April 24, 2008) --- Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) will continue their transition into the IndyCar Series with this weekend's Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at the...

NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING MAKES ITS DEBUT AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (April 24, 2008) --- Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) will continue their transition into the IndyCar Series with this weekend's Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. Only one person on the team has actually seen the track in person and that is the youngest winner in a North American major open wheel racing series -- Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps race car.

Rahal, 19, will make his oval racing debut this Sunday in Kansas. He was unable to compete in the season opening event at Homestead-Miami Speedway when the team did not have enough time or spare parts to repair his car after a testing crash earlier that week. Rahal won in his IndyCar Series debut on a street course in St. Petersburg on April 6 but knows he has a steep learning curve ahead of him.

"I'm looking forward to my oval debut in the IndyCar Series," said Rahal. "I don't know too much about racing at Kansas Speedway. I have actually been there once to watch my dad's team race but that doesn't translate much too actually driving there myself."Last weekend, Rahal had one of the fastest race cars on the streets of Long Beach but was unable to capitalize on a strong points-earning finish and retired in 13th place after running as high as fourth in the event which caused him to drop from fourth to ninth in the IndyCar Series point standings. Although this is only the second race on an oval for the five teams transitioning from the Champ Car World Series, Rahal is optimistic that NHLR is already making progress."Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing have done a good job preparing the cars for Kansas and they have done a little work in the wind tunnel so I think we will be a little more competitive there than we were on the one oval race we have had so far this year," said Rahal. "It's hard to catch up to the years of knowledge the other teams have in such a short time frame but if anyone can do it, this team can."

McDonald's driver Justin Wilson received a standing ovation from the team when he returned to the pits after the conclusion of the season-opening event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After thousands of man hours went into preparation for the team's series debut in less than a one-month time frame, a 15th place finish was like a victory of sorts for the eight-time championship winning team. Wilson and company were able to gain valuable experience during the 200-lap event around the 1.5 mile oval and he is hoping to continue to build on that this weekend.

"I don't know much about the track except what I learned from watching the DVD of last year's race," said Wilson, who started and finished 15th in Homestead. "It's going to be a new track for us but from what I have been told it is similar to Homestead but not quite as difficult. We are going to try to build on what we learned at Homestead. I thought the McDonald's car was good in the race but we are hoping to maybe qualify a fraction better. For the race, my aim is to finish in the top-10 with a view to getting stronger throughout the season."

Wilson, the two-time runner up to NHLR driver and four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais, will be making his seventh start on an oval this weekend. Last weekend, he set the fastest laps in both provisional and final qualifying on the streets of Long Beach in the Champ Car finale to earn pole but he succumbed to engine failure after only completing 12 laps in the race. He has put the disappointment of being unable to earn the maximum number of championship points from that event behind him and, like Rahal, he believes the team has continued to make made progress on their oval racing program.

"I think we have made some gains already but the big gains are going to come once we get to Indianapolis and beyond," said Wilson who spent a few days with his wife Julia and newborn daughter Jane between races. "This process takes some time and we are only heading into our second IndyCar Series oval race so we have to be patient. Hopefully we will pick up some points in this race that we missed out on in Long Beach."

JUSTIN WILSON, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "I don't know much about the track except what I learned from watching the DVD of last year's race. It's going to be a new track for us but from what I have been told it is similar to Homestead but not quite as difficult. We are going to try to build on what we learned at Homestead. I thought the McDonald's car was good in the race but we are hoping to maybe qualify a fraction better. For the race, my aim is to finish in the top-10 with a view to getting stronger throughout the season. I think we have made some gains already but the big gains are going to come once we get to Indianapolis and beyond. This process takes some time and we are only heading into our second IndyCar Series oval race so we have to be patient. Hopefully we will pick up some points in this race that we missed out on in Long Beach."

GRAHAM RAHAL, #06 Hole in the Wall Camps Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "I'm looking forward to my oval debut in the IndyCar Series. I don't know too much about racing at Kansas Speedway. I have actually been there once to watch my dad's team race but that doesn't translate much too actually driving there myself. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing have done a good job preparing the cars for Kansas and they have done a little work in the wind tunnel so I think we will be a little more competitive there than we were on the one oval race we have had so far this year. It's hard to catch up to the years of knowledge the other teams have in such a short time frame but if anyone can do it, this team can. We received back-up cars recently but they won't be ready for race weekend so we are in the same situation we were in for the first two IndyCar Series races."

-credit: nhlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Graham Rahal , Sébastien Bourdais