FIRST INDYCAR RACE AT RELIANT PARK FOR RLL – PROMOTED BY MIKE LANIGAN’S COMPANY The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers doubleheader on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6 will mark the first (and second) time for the team to race at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Speedway at Reliant Park. The team competed on the temporary circuit downtown around the George R. Brown Convention Center from 1998-2001 but this will mark the first time for RLL to not only compete at Reliant Park, it will also be the first time for RLL to compete in a race promoted by team co-owner Mike Lanigan’s company, MJ Promotions, since he joined the team in 2011. The event will mark the third overall Indy car race at Reliant Park and first since the 2006 and 2007 Champ Car races that MJ Promotions also promoted. The team will field the No. 15 blu e Cigs entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts entry for James Jakes.
GRAHAM ON HOUSTON RACE PROMOTER AND TEAM CO-OWNER MIKE LANIGAN RLL co-owner Mike Lanigan has been involved in Graham’s career for many years starting in 2006 as a co-owner of Conquest Racing, whom Graham drove for in the 2006 Atlantic Series. Lanigan was also part of the ownership when Graham joined Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in 2007 and finished second in Houston as well as won in St. Pete in 2008. “Mike has been a huge part of my career, probably second only to my dad. It’s exciting for me to compete with him as part of our racing team, and hopefully we can make him even more proud at a race where he is the promoter. I was definitely involved in this race coming back when IndyCar first merged so it’s nice to now see it come together and be ready to race.”
RAHAL AND JAKES ON THE PHYSICALITY OF A DOUBLE HEADER IN HOUSTON “Toronto was brutal and it really was due to the heat,” said Rahal. “I feel that Houston could be even worse. Mentally I am prepared, and physically I am as well. I’m excited for that challenge, and I think my strength will serve me well this weekend. I have no doubt there will be mental errors, and if the racing is anything like it has been recently there will be a lot of banging. It should be enjoyable though.” “They were both very physical,” added Jakes about the doubleheaders in Detroit and Toronto. “Having two races on a weekend is very demanding not only on the driver but everyone involved in the team too. Take Formula 1 for example. Their races are shorter than ours anyway, and we have to do two on some weekends. That’s around four hours of racing so it can be very tough.”
GRAHAM ON MOMENTUM SINCE MID-OHIO “We absolutely had a turn around coming out of Mid Ohio into Sonoma. Suddenly our team started to click with (race engineer) Neil (Fife) in charge. We found a balance I felt confident in and started to put in some great laps. I wish we could have the ultimate results we deserved, but we certainly have been amongst the quickest for the last couple of races.”
JAKES AIMS FOR ANOTHER TOP-THREE IN HOUSTON “I think we have to be looking at the top three and nowhere else,” said Jakes who qualified in the top five for three of the four doubleheader races so far, including second for Duel 2 in Detroit. “We have been competitive on the street tracks for the most part this season and there is no reason why it should change. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of the weekend and getting a solid result on the final street track of the year.”
GRAHAM ON GETTING BACK TO WORK AFTER A MONTH OFF “I think it will be tough for some to stay in the groove, but it’s the same for all of us. We simply have to focus on doing the best we can. That’s all we can ask and all we can worry about.”