Mid-Ohio: Series Friday report

OHIO NATIVE RAHAL TOPS TIME SHEET AT OPENING DAY AT MID-OHIO LEXINGTON, Ohio (Friday, Aug. 6, 2010) - Ohio native Graham Rahal topped the time chart in the initial IZOD IndyCar Series practice session for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented...

OHIO NATIVE RAHAL TOPS TIME SHEET AT OPENING DAY AT MID-OHIO

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Friday, Aug. 6, 2010) - Ohio native Graham Rahal topped the time chart in the initial IZOD IndyCar Series practice session for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance.

The New Albany, Ohio native, competing in his second race of the season with Newman/Haas Racing, had a best lap of 1 minute, 8.3061 seconds on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit in the No. 02 National Tire & Battery entry.

The hour-long session also featured the top 22 cars separated by less than a second, J.R. Hildebrand, the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion who is making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the No. 24 RollCoater/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car, placed seventh (1:08.6340), and series championship points leader Will Power second (1:08.3301) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car.

"The thing that is obvious to me is that it is really close and very competitive," said Rahal, who has recorded three top-10 finishes with three different teams in six races this season. "At one point, I was 10th, but only a tenth off. But I really wanted to be fastest on the first day at home. It feels good. I am a little bit surprised, especially where we came from. The good thing is the car is nowhere close for me. There's a lot we need to improve on. If we can be this competitive and have a lot to improve on is a good sign for me."

Another 60-minute session precedes the three rounds of qualifying Aug. 7.

Also on Aug. 6, James Hinchcliffe topped the time chart in the initial practice session for the Firestone Indy Lights Mid-Ohio 100.

Hinchcliffe, coming off a victory in the Edmonton 100 in the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car and runner-up in the race at Mid-Ohio in 2009, had a quick lap of 1 minute, 14.2333 seconds.

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DAY 1 NOTEBOOK:

The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance, an 85-lap race at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday (live on VERSUS). The Firestone Indy Lights series will compete in the Mid-Ohio 100, a 40-lap race at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

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Live timing and scoring reports from the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance and Mid-Ohio 100 are available on the Internet at www.indycar.com. The live timing and scoring module provides statistical information, including track segment speeds, lap information and much more.Reports, driver quotes and notes, and photos will be posted on the site each day. More detailed information, including media advisories and VNF coordinates, is available at media.indycar.com.

IZOD IndyCar Series technical information for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio:

Honda overtake assist

Overtake assist was introduced to the series in August 2009 and will make be used for the second time at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The system employed by Honda Performance Development is an ECU software alteration. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout.

For the 2.258-mile, 14-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course:

15 uses
20 seconds duration each use
10-second recharge period between uses

Firestone Firehawk tires

Each car receives six sets (24 tires) of primary tires and three sets (12 tires) of the alternate (red-sidewall) tires.

Firestone Racing has prepared a new primary tire specification for Mid-Ohio based on results from a tire test at the track last September. The updated spec features new compound formulas and a slight tire construction change designed to mimic the grip and durability of last year's primary Firehawks for Mid-Ohio. Teams that participated in the test last week at the track were given a set of the new spec to run. The Firestone alternate tires pair the same left-side alternates used at Barber Motorsports Park and Edmonton with new right-side alternates. The rain is the softer rain, and is the only rain tire we will be using for the 2010 season.

AL SPEYER (Executive Director of Firestone Racing): "Mid-Ohio is a special circuit for us since it is a short drive from our Akron Technical Center where the Firestone Racing race tire development staff is based and where the fine Firehawk race tires are designed and produced. Many of our tech center staff will be on hand this weekend to witness the rewards of their efforts. The primary and alternate tires have contributed greatly to the exciting racing we've seen on the road and street courses this season and, based on the testing performed at Mid-Ohio to develop this year's specs, we expect the new Firehawks to do more of the same."

Aero package

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is in the road course/short oval category of aero packages for the IZOD IndyCar Series. Here are mandatory and optional items for teams:

Rear wings: Tire ramps and sidepod extensions are optional.

Front wings: Wing flaps are open development area. Maximum of two elements per side is permitted and a divider is mandatory.

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Firestone Indy Lights entry updates: Driver for #4 Andersen Racing entry is now Giancarlo Vilarinho. #5 Andersen Racing car has been withdrawn. There are now 15 cars entered in the event.

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Mario Romancini, who competed in the first 11 IZOD IndyCar Series races for Conquest Racing, is at Mid-Ohio as driver coach for Brazilian teenager Giancarlo Vilarinho, who is making his Firestone Indy Lights debut in the No. 5 Andersen Racing/Allied car. Romancini drove for Andersen Racing in Firestone Indy Lights in 2009.

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Gil de Ferran took a deep breath and smiled in anticipation of the question. It's been a year since the 2003 Indianapolis 500 champion announced at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course his retirement from race car driving to pursue IZOD IndyCar Series team ownership. He's back at the circuit this weekend - as managing partner and team president of de Ferran Dragon Racing.

GIL DE FERRAN: "Last year at Mid-Ohio seems like a century ago so much has happened since. I've never stopped running. Obviously, we had to finish the (American Le Mans Series) season with Acura and try to pull a deal together during the winter for IndyCar. I ended up coming into this partnership with Jay (Penske) and Steve (Luczo) and I've been on a treadmill ever since. Part of why I stopped driving is because I wanted to dedicate myself fully to the business of team ownership, and that's an activity that if you want to do well you have to be dedicated, creative and disciplined. I don't feel I could accomplish everything I wanted to do on the business side of motorsports while at the same time being a driver."

(A lot has happened in the last year to you, too): "It's been a busy year, becoming part of the committee being involved in such big decisions regarding IndyCar racing. But it's been really fantastic."

(Do you ever feel like jumping behind the wheel of a race car?): "I felt that way when I was working in Formula One with Honda. Even here when you see an IndyCar or sports car going around, you say, 'Ah, man.' I regard that as a kind of fantasy. I have, of course, great memories of driving racing cars, but I feel that for you to be at the level that it's actually gratifying to drive a racing car you need to dedicate a lot of time, effort and practice. You can't do both.

IZOD INDYCAR SERIES POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 2 National Tire & Battery, fastest of the day): "We definitely struggled at the start of practice. We had a hard time getting it right. We felt really low on grip during the first run. We were really off. The thing that is obvious to me is that it is really close and very competitive. At one point, I was 10th, but only a tenth off. But I really wanted to be fastest on the first day at home. It feels good. I am a little bit surprised, especially where we came from. I was a little bit worried. We tried a whole bunch of things and I think I had a better lap in me, but I locked up a little bit and messed up a lap. The good thing is the car is nowhere close for me. There's a lot we need to improve on. If we can be this competitive and have a lot to improve on is a good sign for myself and the National Tire & Battery team."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, fourth-fastest): "I think the Team IZOD car was pretty good overall. Towards the end of the session, we really tried some things to see if it was what we needed and it wasn't. Our fast time stuck from probably halfway through the session, so I think the car is pretty good. We just have to make some tweaks to it and then we'll see."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, ninth fastest): "It was a good session. We had the Team 7-Eleven car up in the top five for a while during the session, which was good to see. We just have some more work to do for tomorrow and then we'll see what we can do."

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic 16th-fastest): "The car had a lot of oversteer at the beginning of the session. I think the track was messy. As the session went on the car felt quite good. We made quite a few changes and found two good ones so we need to carry that over to tomorrow. My teammate was P1 with a new set of tires so that was good news too."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Meijer, 18th fastest): "We have some work to do with the Meijer car before we're where we want and need to be for the weekend. I think we have some positive feedback from the session today and from the test here a week ago. We'll make some changes tonight and keep chipping away at it."

E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology): "We only had a one-hour practice, but the No. 8 PDVSA car felt good. Very well balanced. The track was a little bit slippery from the other tire compounds of the support series. That is affecting our car's setup a little. But you have the deal with that. I am feeling good about this weekend and Mid-Ohio is always fun to drive. We had some very useful and productive testing last week and I am sure it is going to payoff this weekend. There was a lot of traffic on the track today. So some of our best laps didn't make it for fast times. We have a large field here, so the track will be crowd in qualifying and the race."

MARIO MORAES (No. 22 KV Racing Technology): "I think it is great to be back at Mid-Ohio. Last year, I didn't get the chance to race here (due to Moraes' father death). I'm dealing with my wrist right now. It isn't real good. I have a cracked bone in my right wrist. I hurt it in Edmonton. But I we have a good car for the race. Now we just have to improve it a little bit."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus - KV Racing Technology): "I think we had a good session today despite what the standings say, but we know what we're doing. I was continuing our program from the test here last week and double checking the things we have been working on. I feel positive on how things went today."

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 Xtreme Coil Drilling-TMR, fastest of the day: "It's never bad to be first in the first practice because Firestone Indy Lights is so competitive this year that you really have to be quick right out of the gate. TMR definitely gave me a car that could do that. The track was a little rough at the start of the session because of the all the rubber from the other series, but once we were able to lay down some of our Firestone rubber, the track started to come to us in the last 10 minutes. It's a good start to the weekend, but qualifying and the race is what counts."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 26 Levemir FlexPen, second fastest): "It was a good way to start the weekend. It was a great session. I think the #26 Levemir Flexpen car is gonna be quick here. We had a really good test here, and obviously we're building on that. I'm ready to practice tomorrow morning and hopefully get a good qualifying run to start up front."

MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing, fourth fastest): "That was a solid session for us. We set some different priorities this time. We were focusing on the out-lap, the first lap, just getting the car up to speed. We didn't do more than two or three laps per run. We found a lot of solutions that will help me in qualifying and get the time when we need it. Overall, it was a good solid session."

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The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues Aug. 8 with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Mid-Ohio 100 on Aug. 8 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

-source: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Graham Rahal , Will Power , James Hinchcliffe , J.R. Hildebrand , Giancarlo Vilarinho , Mario Romancini
Teams Team Penske , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , KV Racing Technology , Dragon Racing , Conquest Racing