Rahal at Home at Mid-Ohio; Mutoh Returns to Site of Highest Road Course Finish GRAHAM'S HOME RACE = "PRESSURE TO PERFORM" After a fifth place finish in his previous race with NHR this season in Toronto, Graham Rahal, 21, is making his second...
Rahal at Home at Mid-Ohio; Mutoh Returns to Site of Highest Road Course Finish
GRAHAM'S HOME RACE = "PRESSURE TO PERFORM"
After a fifth place finish in his previous race with NHR this season in Toronto, Graham Rahal, 21, is making his second start for the team in 2010 at this weekend's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Ohio native Rahal, who was born in Columbus and resides in New Albany, approx. 45 minutes from the track, will drive the No. 02 National Tire and Battery entry in his "home race" this weekend. He admits to being under extra pressure at home. "I do think there is more pressure to perform at home. I think that when it is your home race, you expect the best things out of yourself and out of the people around you. There is a lot of pressure that goes along with that. We are going to work hard to put the National Tire and Battery car up front and stay there for a good result. Toronto was a good result for us but we struggled in practice and qualifying. Since this is our second race together this season, hopefully it will come together quicker and we can put in a strong performance in qualifying and get a good starting spot again at Mid-Ohio. In terms of gelling with the team, we hit the ground running in Toronto. It's a great group of guys; a group I feel like I know very well."
GRAHAM AND MID-OHIO
"Some of my fondest memories of being at a race track have come from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. I have many memories of growing up there and being around it while my dad (Bobby Rahal; made 16 starts here) was racing. As a driver I won a national championship in the SCCA Runoffs there so that is a fond memory. I also have some not-so-fond memories there like last year where we qualified well but I made a mistake in the race and pretty well threw the race away for us so that's certainly not one of my favorites. But it's been a place that I have always enjoyed as a fan or just a kid running around the track causing trouble. It's always been a place that I have loved going to.
"I think we were massively better at Mid-Ohio last year than the year before. It's a tough place. In 2008 I made a mistake in the race after following Tony Kanaan too close but until then, we actually had a pretty good race going. And then in 2009 I made a huge mistake which cost us a great result. Certainly there is some work to be done as far as race craft at Mid-Ohio but Toronto was a good run and I think we can carry that over and do a good job for National Tire and Battery this weekend as well.
"My engineer Martin (Pare) is going to come up a day early and spend some time at my house. And then we're going to go out and do the track walk on Thursday night and all of that kind of stuff. That will give us a good amount of time to get together and talk about the things we need to do for the setup. I looked over our race map and test map from last year to see how the car was acting in both of those situations and I think I know what we can improve on."
GRAHAM ON THE PHYSICAL COURSE AND HEAT
"The Indy car is certainly as physical as any to drive. If you look at the data overlays between the Champ Car and the Indy car, although the straightaway speed isn't as fast as it was in the Champ Car, the mid-corner speeds and the G-force loads are just as high. Mid-Ohio is a very tight track and you don't get a lot of time to breathe. The back straight isn't all that long so there is always something going on. Factor in the heat we have been experiencing in Central Ohio, and really the Midwest, over the past couple of months, and its going to be a tough weekend. Its still 90 degrees when it's cloudy and overcast. The humidity and the heat will make it an even tougher race. I remember that during the race last year I cracked my visor under yellow one time to try to get some air and the air outside the car was warmer than inside. I was trying to get air but it was horrible feeling. I expect much the same this year although the forecast now is for it to be in the low 80's (degrees) and sunny all three days so that ought to be nice. I've been doing a lot of cycling and a lot of running lately in the heat and humidity. And I've also been doing my normal weight lifting with my trainer Anthony Donskov. I'm in pretty good shape now; I felt really good in Toronto although its not one of the more physical tracks. I feel a good sense of confidence going into this weekend. Of course it's going to be a challenge but I hope its one we can live up to."
GRAHAM'S EXPECTATIONS AT HOME
"From my perspective it's certainly my expectation to make the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying. It's going to be hard because a lot of teams tested at Mid-Ohio last week and there will be 27 cars so it's not going to be easy. Ganassi and all three Penske cars tested as well as Justin Wilson and a lot of other good guys so to get into the top-six is not going to be a walk in the park. We were in a similar situation last year though and made it into the Fast Six so it can happen. Once we do that, I would like to have a trouble-free race and a good finish."
HIDEKI AT MID-OHIO
The 2010 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be his third IZOD IndyCar Series event here. He earned his highest series finish on a road/street course here last year when he finished fifth after starting 11th. He started 10th and finished ninth here in 2008. "Mid-Ohio is a challenging course with the elevation changes and turns," said Mutoh who drives the No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic entry. "It is a nice, smooth race track and not bumpy like a street course. I really enjoy driving at Mid-Ohio. I had a very good race car last year so I was catching the leader and the fourth place guy but just couldn't pass him. I had a very good race car so I managed to pass a few cars on track but the pit strategy was good too so that gained some positions as well. The car was awesome. My first race there in 2008 was more difficult. It started to rain just before the race and my radio didn't work. I called them and said I wanted to change my tires but they couldn't hear my radio so I lost a few positions there. It could have been a much better result but I like Mid-Ohio and am hoping we can improve on last year's fifth place finish."
HIDEKI ON HAVING A TEAMMATE AGAIN
Hideki, who just returned from a trip to see his family and friends in Japan, is looking forward to having a teammate for the second time this season. "It helped a lot to work with Graham in Toronto so I think the same thing will happen in Mid-Ohio. It's always good to share data. We can push together. Some corners, he is faster and others, I am faster so we can build up together. We can split the work load and try different things and just use the good things we learned."