McDONALD'S DRIVER WILSON AND HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER RAHAL LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS SATURDAY'S SUNTRUST INDY CHALLENGE IN RICHMOND AFTER PROGRESS ON SHORT OVALS RICHMOND, Virginia (June 25, 2008) --- Since it was announced that...
McDONALD'S DRIVER WILSON AND HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER RAHAL LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS SATURDAY'S SUNTRUST INDY CHALLENGE IN RICHMOND AFTER PROGRESS ON SHORT OVALS
RICHMOND, Virginia (June 25, 2008) --- Since it was announced that open wheel racing would merge under the single banner of the IndyCar Series only four months ago, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) has worked untold hours to catch up to their peers who are in the midst of their sixth season with the current racing equipment. McDonald's driver Justin Wilson and Hole in the Wall Camps driver Graham Rahal both ran competitively on the .875-mile oval at Iowa Speedway last weekend and hope to continue progressing at this Saturday's night race on the .75-mile short oval at Richmond International Raceway.
"I'm looking forward to driving on yet another new track this weekend," said Wilson of the seventh new track he will race on so far this season of the nine events to date. "It is supposed to be similar to Iowa but tighter and faster so it's going to be a tough race. We ran well most of the race in Iowa so the McDonald's team is hoping for similar competitiveness at Richmond. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Point standings dictated Wilson's 20th place start at Iowa Speedway when rain cancelled qualifying but he utilized a strong race car to run as high as seventh place and maintained a top-10 run until the final stint when the handling of his race car declined and he finished 12th. That experience coupled with the fact that his season-best oval finish came at the Milwaukee Mile on June 1, has Wilson encouraged by the progress he hopes will continue on the third short oval race in four weeks.
"Hopefully we can keep working and improving on things," said Wilson, who will be joined by his family at the event for the first time since becoming a father on April 12. "Quite often this year we have not done so well in qualifying but in the race the McDonald's car is really good and we can pass people. Even on a track like Iowa where we didn't expect to be able to pass, we moved forward and that's encouraging. I think that if we give ourselves a chance to start further forward we can get in there and start mixing it up. Right now we will just keep learning and keep progressing."
After earning his highest finish on an oval of 10th place last weekend at Iowa Speedway, Graham Rahal is also hopeful of a good experience in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond. Prior to coming to the IndyCar Series, Rahal had only raced on an oval once as a 16- year old in the Star Mazda ladder series in 2005 and has only participated in little more than one day of oval testing apart from a race weekend. Despite that fact as well as limited track time to perfect a qualifying or racing setup during a race weekend he narrowly lost earning his first major league pole ever -- and on an oval no less -- at the Milwaukee Mile and started second. He is looking forward to continuing the progress this weekend on the track many of his peers enjoy.
"I think that the race car we need for Richmond would be pretty similar to what we had in Iowa," said Rahal. "We kept working with the car in Richmond and on the last stint we had a really good race car. If we can pick up where we left off we should be in good shape. I don't know too much about the track specifically but I have watched the race several times. The track is really small and quick with high loads. All of the drivers I have talked to say they really love Richmond. It sounds like a lot of fun."