Kentucky: Newman/Haas Racing preview

THIRD RACE FOR NHR AT KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY -- HOPE TO TOP FIFTH PLACE HERE Newman/Haas Racing has competed here twice. In 2008 Graham Rahal started 20th and ran as high as 12th in the opening laps before gearbox failure ended his race after 28/200...


Newman/Haas Racing has competed here twice. In 2008 Graham Rahal started 20th and ran as high as 12th in the opening laps before gearbox failure ended his race after 28/200 laps and he retired in 25th. Justin Wilson started 19th and ran 16th before gearbox failure ended his race after 82/200 laps. In 2009, Rahal started 10th based on entrant points due to "weepers" but hoped to qualify much higher based on winning pole at a similar track (Kansas; previous 1.5 mile track). He finished fifth in what he called "his best car on an oval ever" at the time. Robert Doornbos started 12th based on point standings and finished 19th after a pit problem.


The 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway is similar in banking to the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. Formula Dream/Panasonic driver Mutoh qualified fourth in his first oval race with the team in Kansas but was eliminated from the race with 14 laps to go after trying to pass the slower, lapped car of Simona de Silvestra on a restart from the third caution. There were many lapped cars in the lead pack, and Mutoh, who ran fourth until his final pit stop, was in fifth place behind Kanaan with 14 laps to go and Kanaan, Mutoh and Sato were nose-to-tail on the restart. They approached the lapped car of de Silvestro, who was in the middle of the track. Kanaan got past and Mutoh went alongside her on the high side of the track and then Sato put the nose of his car between Mutoh and the outside track wall. There wasn't enough room and Sato's left front tire hit Hideki's right rear tire and the two made contact with the wall. Because he and the team ran strong on that 1.5-mile oval, he feels the team should run well again this weekend. "I think the track is quite similar to Kansas Speedway and we qualified fourth and ran there most of the race so hopefully we can continue that performance this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. I think we learned a lot last weekend at Chicagoland and we hope to continue to build momentum from that as well. We have good speed in qualifying but in the race I struggled. The team found something that works with my driving style that will make the car better."


Mutoh will make his third IZOD IndyCar start at this track and fourth overall. In 2007, he won the Firestone Indy Lights race here from pole after leading 66/67 laps. The win was one of two that season en route to a runner-up finish in the series to Alex Lloyd. In 2008, he started 4th and retired in 18th place due to mechanical failure. In 2009 he started 11th based on point standings due to "weepers" and finished 13th. "I was on pole in Indy Lights at Kentucky Speedway and won the race which felt very good. I qualified well (fourth) for my first race here in an Indy car but I retired with mechanical failure. I think the drive shaft failed leaving the pits. Last year we started from points and had an uneventful race and finished 13th."


The previous IZOD IndyCar Series race at Chicagoland was an action-filled race with "pack" and three-wide racing. Hideki believe that while there might be two or three packs instead of one, the racing will be just as exciting. "I think we will see pack racing at Kentucky but not like at Chicagoland. I think the fast guys will be in a pack and there will be other packs but not one big one. The track isn't as wide as others and is a little bumpier up high so that prevents three-wide racing and one big pack like we saw at Chicago. Maybe it won't be as crazy as Chicagoland but it should be a very good race."


Mutoh, 27, who was born in Tokyo, Japan on 10-6-1982 will be one of two drivers to race in their homeland when the IZOD IndyCar Series competes in the Indy Japan 300 on September 19. KV Racing Technology driver Takuma Sato will also compete there this year. In 2008, Mutoh started ninth and finished 11th and was joined by Roger Yasukawa who finished 14th. In 2009, Mutoh was again joined by Yasukawa as well as Kosuke Matsuura and earned the highest finish of his countrymen of 14th. Mutoh's father, Eiji, will be able to see his son race an Indy car in person for the first time ever -- in Japan or otherwise.J

His father operates the family's Hotetora shop in the famous Tsukiji fish market that has been in the family for approx. 110 years (three generations). Due to this responsibility, he has been unable to see his son race an Indy car until this year's race in Japan. The 2010 race falls on a national holiday translated as "Respect for the Aged Day" that was established in 1966 as a day to respect the elderly and celebrate long life. It was originally held on September 15 but in 2003 it was changed to the third Monday of September. The Hotetora shop will be closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday in observance of the holiday.

Hideki is thankful that his father will be able to attend the race and he knows a good result in Japan would be life-changing. "My mother and sisters have come to the Indy 500 and Sonoma but it will be the first time for my father to see me race an Indy car. It would be huge if a Japanese driver won the home race. I could be happy with that experience for the next 20 years if I won the race. It would be huge; it would change everything. We will work hard to have the best finish possible but it would definitely be the highlight of my career to win the race."

-source: nhra

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Takuma Sato , Justin Wilson , Graham Rahal , Robert Doornbos , Roger Yasukawa , Alex Lloyd
Teams KV Racing Technology