Darren Manning: No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda/Firestone * Darren Manning on Twin Ring Motegi: "I am glad to be back here because I like this track a lot. Although we struggled to find a good set-up here last year, we finally did find it by the...
Darren Manning: No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda/Firestone
* Darren Manning on Twin Ring Motegi: "I am glad to be back here because I like this track a lot. Although we struggled to find a good set-up here last year, we finally did find it by the end of the race. The car was really good so we have a good baseline to start with this year. With the weather looking iffy, we need to get the most out of our time on track Thursday because Friday could be a wash-out."
* Manning on Japan: "I spent a lot of time here in '99 when I ran the All Japan F-3 Series. They still remember me. I love the people and I love the food. I usually come back here at least once a year to race something." Manning won the All Japan F-3 championship in 1999, winning six consecutive races.
* Past IndyCar races in Japan: Manning has competed three times at Twin Ring Motegi. In his initial visit, he qualified 10th and finished fourth, his career best finish to date. In 2005, "we were running fourth again when I ran out gas. We finished eighth." In 2007, Manning started 18th and was running 11th when he had to duck into the pits for fuel, he finished 12th. "Today, the car was a bit of a struggle in the middle part of the race but the last quarter of the race it was really sweet--I could race with the guys," Manning said afterwards..
* Post-race Get-together: Following his first race in Japan, Darren Manning organized (loosely) a post-race driver party in Tokyo the night of the race which has become a tradition among the drivers. "It started out with a just a few of my friends and now it has grown so that nearly everyone goes," said Manning. "It's a good way for the drivers to bond at the start of the season."
* Tetsuo Kuramochi, the young Japanese law student who befriended the Foyt team during their initial visit to Japan in 2003, has been to every race here in Twin Ring Motegi and has been to the last two Indy 500s among other races on the IndyCar circuit. Kuramochi will be commuting from his home in Utsonomiya.
* Last Race: Manning started 11th in the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg and ran as high as fourth but a faulty gearbox forced him off the pace as he couldn't shift out of third gear on lap 76. He managed to stay in the race thanks to a timely yellow (with about 10 minutes to go) and placed 13th.