DISAPPOINTING SEASON FINALE FOR MI-JACK CONQUEST RACING ATLANTIC TEAM AND GRAHAM RAHAL - Ryan Lewis takes fifth in race - Indianapolis, Indiana, September 26, 2006 -- It was a day of drama and heartbreak for the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing...
DISAPPOINTING SEASON FINALE FOR MI-JACK CONQUEST RACING ATLANTIC TEAM AND GRAHAM RAHAL
- Ryan Lewis takes fifth in race -
Indianapolis, Indiana, September 26, 2006 -- It was a day of drama and heartbreak for the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic Team yesterday at the Champ Car Atlantic season finale in Road America. It was the most important race of the season. The one that was going to decide who of Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud was going to be crowned the 2006 Atlantic Champion. Conquest Racing's Graham Rahal was well determined and focused to take the title home, but his engine had other plans. The stuck throttle safety feature kicked in during a caution period, shutting down the engine for no apparent reason, costing the team what could have been a well-deserved Championship. Regardless of Sunday's results, the team has nothing to be ashamed about; they were the dominating force all season.
Things had started off well for Rahal. He was staying at the front and fighting for position with Pagenaud when a yellow flag came out on lap 4. That's when the dreaded event happened. Rahal quickly tried to restart the car but to no avail. He jumped out of the car and headed back to pit lane only to find out that his rival Simon Pagenaud had crashed out on the next lap. To make matters worse, once the car was returned to the team after the race, it started on the first try.
After the race, the crew and Cosworth engineers looked at data from the Mazda-Cosworth engine on Rahal's car to find out what had caused the engine to die so suddenly. It was a problem in the stuck throttle safety feature. A feature designed specifically to cut the engine's motor if the throttle remains stuck, it thought the throttle was stuck and killed the engine and the team's hopes of winning the Championship.
"It was going fairly well. We were running up front like we wanted to. Pagenaud got by me which was fine. I wasn't too concerned about that. Under yellow the motor just switched off. There's not much you can do about it at that point, it didn't want to restart. Things like that happen," said Rahal. "Its just frustrating because the next lap Pagenaud went off so if we would have continued, we would have had a better chance of winning the title. Overall we still had a good year just too much bad luck. But honestly if someone had told me at the beginning of the season that I would finish second in the Championship, I wouldn't have believed them, the same thing if someone would have told me that I would win five races, I would have been happy with one. Finishing second isn't all that bad."
Team owner Eric Bachelart shared his feelings after the race about what happened with the engine. "It's a shame the championship ended this way but we had such a fantastic season. I'm very proud of our team and drivers. We achieved the best results with our wins, poles and podiums in an extremely competitive series. It certainly has been a lot of fun and we are already looking forward to and getting prepared for next season. We would also like to congratulate Derrick Walker and Team Australia for their Championship win."
THE PODIUM STREAK
With Rahal out of the race, Conquest Racing was hoping that Ryan Lewis would keep the team's podium streak alive as he moved up the field from his ninth place on the grid but the speed just wasn't there to stay with the front runners. Ryan Lewis ends the season in 13th place in the standings with 110 points and three podium finishes in nine races.
"We could have been a bit more competitive today. Through the corners the car was pretty good. It took a couple of laps for the car to get up to speed so the restarts didn't play in our favor," explained Lewis. All the way around I struggled for some straight line speed so the guys up front were able to build up a gap and I couldn't really catch up unfortunately. But overall it was a good race and I'm glad I came home fifth."
In twelve races this season, the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic Team has had five wins, three second place finishes and one third. The team's nine-consecutive podium finishes breaks Hoover Orsi's record of eight in a row in 2001 and establishes a new mark to beat in the future.
At the Atlantic Gala Sunday night, the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team was awarded in more than one way. Crew Chief Tim Shank won the award for Mechanic of the year. Don Halliday was named engineer of the year and driver Graham Rahal picked up the Rising Star trophy.
-credit: mijack conquest racing