Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is the only IndyCar Series team that has competed in every CART, Champ Car or Indy car race held on the Gold Coast and are hoping to earn their seventh win in Surfer's Paradise this year! JUSTIN WILSON, No. 02...
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is the only IndyCar Series team that has competed in every CART, Champ Car or Indy car race held on the Gold Coast and are hoping to earn their seventh win in Surfer's Paradise this year!
JUSTIN WILSON, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
"There's not a championship on the line this year going to Surfer's Paradise but that doesn't mean that the drivers don't still want to win really bad," said Wilson.
"There certainly is no added pressure from a championship standpoint but it means so much to win at this track so it's a very important race for the drivers. To have a win here on your resume means you've overcome a lot of odds.
"Last year I finished second after a good race with Sebastien (Bourdais). We were trading positions on the pit stops and I passed him on track and he passed me back on the last pit stop. It was a good, fun battle. The two of us got out front and once Oriol crashed it was just myself and Sebastien that were pushing hard for the race win so it was a lot of fun!
"In 2006, I didn't get to drive because I broke my wrist in practice before qualifying. I clipped the tire bundle at Turn 12 which ripped the steering wheel through my hands and broke my wrist. It was disappointing not to race that weekend but I was able to recover. I watched the race from home on the TV which was frustrating.
"The event is rated highly in my opinion because it is a very demanding track. It's very physical and very demanding on the drivers. Your concentration level needs to be at its highest point because you have to be able to commit to all of the high speed corners on a street circuit where you don't have any runoff or leeway. The smallest mistake can lead to a big accident so it is very psychological. There are a lot of curbs you have to jump and a lot of cambered and crowned corners also which are very tricky and I'm sure they will be even trickier in the Indy car.
"We'll be riding high after winning the previous two street races this year between myself and Graham. That will give us a lot of confidence but the track is so different that it doesn't guarantee that our setup is going to work. But we're hopeful that we have a good understanding of what it's going to take to tune it in if it's not good straightaway.
"I'm going there a day early to give myself a little more time to adjust to the time difference and try to get into the rhythm and routine of sleeping when you're meant to sleep and not when you feel tired. It takes a few days to get over the jetlag so I'll just enjoy my time there before the work starts. It's a great place.
"It will be the first race without Paul which is obviously going to be difficult. We all miss Paul and it will mean a lot for either myself or Graham to go out there and try and get a win for him. We'll just do our best and give it everything we can and try to come out on top."
GRAHAM RAHAL, #06 Hole in the Wall Camps Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
"As far as the enthusiasm and excitement of the fans and community around the circuit, Surfers Paradise is one of the best events I have been to and been a part of," said Rahal.
"Last year my expectations for how good the event would be were high based on what I had heard and seen as a kid and the experience completely surpassed my expectations. It was an amazing event last year and it's really exciting for me to go back this year. It's probably the best race on the schedule other than the Indy 500. In terms of fan attendance and the enthusiasm that the fans have toward the race, it may be unmatched. I look forward to competing there again this year.
"I think we ran a really good race last year but unfortunately we didn't have the best of finishes because of the fact that Nelson Philippe hit me when I was running fifth and spun me out but that's how things go. I was able to set the fastest lap of the race for the first time. We didn't say 'Let's try to run the fastest lap' but the car was really good and I was able to push it really hard and we were able to do it which is really cool. And I don't think the lap time will be beaten any time soon because the Champ Car's had more horsepower.
"Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing won there last year when Seb (Sebastien Bourdais) earned his fourth straight title and has won four of the last seven races there so were are hoping to continue the competitiveness.
"Surfers will be the only street course we will run on this season in an IndyCar that we ran on last year in a Champ Car but we should be able to adapt pretty quickly. We ran strong in the last IndyCar Series street race in Detroit and Justin won so we are learning more and more about the Indy car. Overall we were pretty quick last year. I hope we can contend for a win this year.
"I think Justin will be very tough to beat there but I really enjoyed the circuit last year and for rookies coming in that haven't been there before, it's a tough track. Dixon and all of those guys have seen the place so it's not going to be too different for them.
"I do think you will see more bonsai moves because there isn't a championship on the line. There are going to be people with the mindset that they are just trying to prove themselves and that it doesn't really matter what happens at the end of it all. Since it's not for points, I think everyone is just going to go all out and see what happens. That's the mentality that a lot of these guys and unfortunately any one of us could pay the price for it. The race is known for surprises and I definitely think that will be the case again this year.
"My dad finished second twice in Australia and raced there many times. He didn't win there so it's up to me to get a win for the Rahal's in Australia. It was great to get back there last year and actually compete. I think everyone starts to look forward to going back there once they get back home. I went there once as a kid in 1998, the last year my dad was racing in CART. It is a great place; absolutely beautiful! I was only 9 or 10 so I missed the best part which is the girls. I wasn't paying attention to them then. My dad was knocked out right away so I didn't see much of the race. I went back to the hotel and jumped in the pool.
"It's going to be tough racing for the first time without Paul. We're just going to go out there and approach it like we always have. We want to go out and get a win for him because we all know that winning made him really happy so that's what we're going to try to do."