RAHAL, DOORNBOS SWEEP FRONT ROW FOR NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Saturday, April 25, 2009) -- Graham Rahal won his second career pole position and his first on an oval, edging teammate Robert Doornbos by three-tenths of a second as Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing swept the front row for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway.
Earlier this month, Rahal became the youngest pole winner in major open-wheel racing history at the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Fla. Two races later, the 20-year-old is on the pole for the first time on an oval. He qualified second at Milwaukee last year.
Doornbos, a rookie who will be making his first start on an oval, qualified second, marking the 40th time in IndyCar Series history that teammates will start 1-2. Rahal recorded a four-lap qualifying average of 211.311 mph, while Doornbos was at 210.665 mph.
Danica Patrick qualified third on the 1.5-mile oval, and will start on the second row next to reigning series champion Scott Dixon.
Dan Wheldon, the winner of the last two races at Kansas Speedway, will start ninth in his attempt to become the third driver to win three consecutive races at a track.
Series points leader Dario Franchitti will start 20th, and Helio Castroneves will start 21st. Both drivers were penalized for driving under the white line during their qualifying attempts. Castroneves was penalized for the same reason in the 2008 season finale at Chicagoland and went on to win the race after starting 28th.
Each IndyCar Series car receives eight sets of Firestone Firehawks for the two-day weekend.
Developed during testing at Chicagoland late last season, these tires are designed to have similar grip and slightly better wear than the tires used at the Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February. The additional durability is due to a slight compound change to all four positions. This tire was designed to withstand high superspeedway temperatures and speeds while providing consistent grip for Kansas' multiple racing grooves.
AL SPEYER (Executive Director, Firestone Racing): "This year is a bit different, as we're three races into the season but looking at our first oval event and the only oval race prior to the Indianapolis 500. That puts even more emphasis on the data and experience teams will gather at Kansas Speedway this weekend. The tires we are bringing are the latest iteration of Firestone Racing's successful superspeedway tire. The constant high speeds and high temperatures that superspeedway specifications must withstand mean that we are continually striving to improve the performance of our big-oval Firestone Firehawk racing slicks. This tire is nearly identical to the one used at the Homestead Open Test earlier this season, so we are confident that drivers will be satisfied with their performance so they can focus their attention on all-important oval car setups."
ABC Supply roofing customer Rite Way Roofing, Inc. of Fayetteville, Ark., won the team's "Your Name Here" contest for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300. The company name will be on the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply entry. Larry Corbitt will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a meet and greet with driver Vitor Meira. The "Your Name Here" promotion selected winners by random drawing from a pool of entries sent in by ABC Supply customers earlier this year.
Graham Rahal has signed a personal services agreement with Bell Microproducts, Inc.
The agreement, which consists of multiple elements, will see Rahal personally interact with Bell Micro customers and employees at select events as well as establish a unique presence on the internet through his personal website www.grahamrahal.com. Courtesy of Bell Micro, the "Graham's View" section of the site will continuously feature columns written by Rahal and video blogs featuring the 20-year old IndyCar Series racer.
DON BELL (President and CEO, Bell Micro): "Graham is a tremendous young driver, but equally he is a terrific guy out of the race car. We think the world of Graham and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job representing our company and working with our customers and employees."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team): "I am really pleased to start working with Don and his company. I think we have put together a creative program, especially with the internet component. This is the beginning of a great relationship."
Direct Supply, Inc., the nation's leading supplier of equipment and e-commerce solutions to long-term healthcare communities will sponsor IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher for the second season, beginning with this weekend's race at Kansas Speedway.
BOB HILLIS (Chairman and CEO, Direct Supply): "Direct Supply is proud to be involved with IndyCar Series racing as a part of our long history with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We are especially proud to be sponsoring Sarah Fisher, who our whole company has rallied around as the first woman-owned team in Speedway history. Sarah is such a warm- hearted, caring person, and has captured the hearts of all of the Direct Supply partners and so many racing fans around the country."
SARAH FISHER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "I'm so honored to welcome Bob Hillis and Direct Supply back at SFR in 2009. Although everyone at Direct Supply and the Hillis family don't share our surname, they're all family to us and mean a great deal to the team. Direct Supply joined SFR at a time when things were very difficult for us, and for that I'm forever grateful."
IndyCar Series driver Stanton Barrett has donated space on his #98 Team 3G car to the Kansas City Art Institute for this weekend's Road Runner Turbo Indy 300. The Art Institute will use the space to promote its upcoming Art of the Car Concours event on June 27, the largest vintage car show in Kansas City, which benefits student scholarships to the Kansas City Art Institute. Barrett, who paints, sketches and does photography in his spare time, owns an art gallery that showcases a variety of new and established talent with the proceeds going to the artists' designated charity.
In each race market, Barrett donates space on the car to a local charitable organization. KCAI trustee Brad Nicholson met Barrett a few years ago at the Daytona 500 when he passed Barrett's motor coach, which had several Kansas City Chiefs chairs outside it. When Nicholson inquired who the driver was, he found out Barrett just happens to be a Chiefs fan. Barrett reconnected with Nicholson at Daytona this year and discussed creating a unique opportunity to benefit the Kansas City Art Institute during the IndyCar Series race weekend at Kansas Speedway.
The Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design, awarding the bachelor of fine arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, fiber, graphic design, illustration, interdisciplinary arts, new media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. The college also offers evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City's oldest arts organization.
STANTON BARRETT (No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G): "This is a great opportunity to bring together two of my passions -- art and racing -- to benefit Kansas City art students and help fulfill their dreams. With the dark cloud brought to the area with the bad decision by the Chiefs to trade Tony Gonzalez, I hope this program will brighten someone's day."
A.J. Foyt Racing is offering an Indy 500 VIP Weekend to the highest bidder in the Continental Airlines Frequent Flyer Program's Onepass Online Auction. It is the fifth straight year for the popular program.
The winner and a guest will receive two race tickets and two Bronze Badges for the race weekend. They will meet A.J. Foyt and driver Vitor Meira in the team's garage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 23. They will see the No. 14 ABC Supply entry as it is being prepared for the Indianapolis 500
After the private meeting with the Foyt team, the winner and guest will attend the Drivers' Meeting held at the track on the front straightaway near the famed Yard of Bricks finish line, and they will also be able to tour the garage area as teams make their final preparations.
On May 24, the winner and guest will have reserved seats to watch the world's most famous race.
Bidders can participate by going to www.continental.com and click on the Frequent Flyer tab, then to the Online Auction section. The Indy 500 package is listed in the Sports section. The auction will close May 15 at 9:30 a.m. (ET).
PEAK PERFORMANCE POLE QUALIFYING NOTES:
* Graham Rahal won the pole, his second career pole. He also won the pole earlier this season at St. Petersburg, becoming the youngest pole winner in major open-wheel racing history.
* Rahal's previous best start on an oval was second last year at Milwaukee.
* This is the second IndyCar Series pole for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
* Robert Doornbos qualified second in his first start on an oval. His previous best start was ninth at Long Beach.
* This is the 40th time in IndyCar Series history that teammates will start 1-2. The feat happened six times last year, most recently at Infineon when Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe qualified 1-2 for Team Penske.
* Danica Patrick qualified third, her best starting position of the season and her best since starting third last year at Chicagoland.
* Scott Dixon qualified fourth, his 18th consecutive top-10 start, the longest active streak in the IndyCar Series. It is his first top-five start of the season.
* Marco Andretti qualified fifth, his first top-five start of the season and his best start since fifth at Chicagoland last season.
* Mario Moraes qualified sixth, his best career start. His previous best was 10th at Edmonton last year.
* Dan Wheldon, the two-time defending winner at Kansas Speedway, qualified ninth. He has started second and fourth, respectively, the last two seasons.
* Sarah Fisher and Milka Duno qualified 11th and 12th, respectively, in their 2009 debuts.
* Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves were penalized for driving below the white line. They will start 21st and 22nd, respectively.
INDYCAR SERIES POST-QUALIFYING QUOTES:
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 02 McDonald's Racing Team, first): "It's a fantastic start for the McDonald's team. First of all, for us to get a pole when we go to St. Petersburg, and then to do it again here at Kansas, I think it's quite a shock. And obviously in memory of Paul (Newman), it's great for us to have this success early in the season. Now of course there's still a long way to go, but for us to get our first (oval) pole here, I hope it's a sign of things to come."
ROBERT DOORNBOS (No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, second): "Graham has more experience on the ovals. I've been watching some videos, and I think last year the Ganassi boys ran one-two and pulled away helping each other. I don't think it's a good thing if we're not helping each other because then I'll be sitting in an office in Chicago (team headquarters) probably explaining myself. It's a team effort that we're here. They've worked very hard in the winter. I went out first then the engineers saw what they could do and improve and he grabbed the pole and now we're second. So I think it's been a great team result, and I think we need to thank the boys in the race tomorrow."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, third): "I thought it was hard to get up to speed, and the No. 7 car was maybe the most loose it's ever been on an oval. It was a handful, but we ended up finding a pretty good speed and were able to put the Motorola car up front. I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth): "We need to get a good result. It's been frustrating what we've had these past two races and before you know it you've let too many points go. We're going to try to make the most of it. I'm going to try to stay clear of the Australian out there (Ryan Briscoe), and hopefully they'll stop picking on me."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, fifth): "Qualifying today was not a bad showing for Team Venom Energy. As the session went on, the track got better and better, and that's the down side of drawing an early number, but overall not a bad result. We'll work hard tomorrow to keep the No. 26 car up front."
MARIO MORAES (No. 5 KV Racing Technology/Votorantim, sixth): "I think the KV Racing Technology--Votorantim team did a great job. This is my best IndyCar Series career qualifying position. The KVRT engineers made the right decision about changing the setup of the car. They did a great job, and the crew did an outstanding job preparing the car. Last year, I wasn't able to qualify because my wheel nut came loose in practice and I had to start the race from the back. This year however, I am in a much better position and I look forward to the race tomorrow."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, seventh): "I'm not unhappy, but I definitely don't think we got the most out of the Team Penske car in qualifying today. I just couldn't keep it down in Turns 3 and 4 with the wind as strong as it was. But that's OK. We should be in good shape for tomorrow. I think we've got a really competitive race car, and hopefully we'll have a good run."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, eighth): "The No. 11 car was really loose in qualifying today. I'm disappointed with were we ended up, but tomorrow will be a new day for Team 7-Eleven and we'll see what it brings."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, ninth): "We were incredibly loose in qualifying, but that's because we really decided to attack and have a run for the pole. The National Guard Panther Racing car will be strong for the race. Obviously there are opportunities to overtake here. We decided we were going to be aggressive, and it caught us out a bit, but that's part of it. It wasn't the wind really, it was just a shame that we were too loose. We haven't had much running yet, but we'll work on things in the morning warm-up tomorrow and make sure we're strong for the race. It's one of those things, and it's certainly going to be an exciting race for fans of the IndyCar Series. I always seem to go well around here, so we're excited about our potential."
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing, 10th): "With just one practice before qualifying, we went pretty aggressive and overdid it a little bit for qualifying with the wind anyways. The car was really good through Turns 1 and 2 but there was too much understeer going through Turns 3 and 4. It's too bad because I think we could easily have run in the 210 mph range with some changes. Today definitely wasn't the day to be going out first, but that's the luck of the draw. We missed a little on setup, so I'm not terribly happy with how qualifying went, but I'm looking forward to race day. I know we'll make our way up to the front with the No.20 Menards car. We always have a good race car. I'm more worried about the weather (possibility of rain on race day)."
The #13 HVM Racing car driven by E.J. Viso failed the post-qualifying technical inspection and will start at the rear of the field.
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
3 p.m. Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 pre-race
4 p.m. Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 (200 laps/300 miles)