Texas: Newman/Haas Racing preview

Mutoh Aims to "Better" Best Finish of Sixth at Firestone 550k in Texas THIRD EVENT AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY The team is looking for a good result in their third race at the high-banked Texas Motor Speedway. Graham Rahal and Robert ...

Mutoh Aims to "Better" Best Finish of Sixth at Firestone 550k in Texas


The team is looking for a good result in their third race at the high-banked Texas Motor Speedway. Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos competed for the team in 2009. Rahal qualified 12th here last year and retired in 22nd after he struggled to control his race car in the opening laps and made contact with the wall. Doornbos qualified ninth and finished 11th. Rahal and Justin Wilson competed for the team here in 2008. Rahal started 18th and finished 11th. Wilson qualified 23rd, ran as high as 13th but finished 27th after he brushed the T2 wall and retired with suspension failure after 39/228 laps.


Beginning at the Kentucky event on August 1, 2009, IZOD IndyCar Series teams were given the option of adding aerodynamic pieces to their cars as well as bursts of additional horsepower in an effort to increase passing opportunities. Rear tire ramps, sidepod extensions and wheel backing plates used together, or in any combination are optional items for the 1.5-mile ovals. Mutoh believes this will create even more pack racing at Texas. "There is always very close racing at Texas Motor Speedway and usually in packs. There is a lot of three-wide racing on the high banks. It's pretty easy to drive on your own but when you are in a pack it's pretty hard. It's difficult to get through all of the traffic. It's very bumpy, especially in Turn 2 and on the high banking and when you get off the banking you always have a little 'moment' there. The wind always makes a big impact in Texas also. This will be the first time to race in Texas since the series changed the technical package late last season. I think we can trim the car more than last year so there will be higher speeds in qualifying and even more pack racing."


The team achieved a milestone of having competed in 450 Indy car races at the Indy 500 since their first season of competition in 1983 at the 94th Running of the Indianapolis 500. The number includes participation in CART, Champ Car, IRL Indy 500's and the IZOD IndyCar Series to date over the team's 28 seasons of competition (chart available upon request). Including the Firestone 550, the team will have entered a total of 799 cars in these 451 events.


Mutoh's spotter, Lee Orebaugh, resides in the DFW area near Plano, Texas. Orebaugh has been a spotter with the team since 2009 and has worked with Mutoh at the two oval races so far in 2010: Kansas, where he ran fourth most of the race, and at the Indy 500.


Since being formed by Carl Haas and Paul Newman in the fall of 1982, the team has earned a total of 107 wins and 109 pole positions. Twenty seven of their 107 wins and 19 of their 109 poles came on ovals. The team's previous win on an oval was by Sebastien Bourdais on 6-4-06 at the Milwaukee Mile. Their previous pole on an oval came here last season by Graham Rahal (4-25-09). Eight of the 17 races on the 2010 schedule are on ovals.

Hideki Mutoh, driver of the No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic Dallara-Honda-Firestone entry:


The 2010 event will be Hideki's third here and third oval race with NHR. He competed on ovals for NHR at Kansas and Indianapolis. He previously competed for Andretti Green Racing, co-owned by former NHR driver Michael Andretti, for the past two seasons. In 2008 he started fourth and finished sixth and in 2009 he started 11th and finished 21st due to retiring with an electrical problem after completing 153/228 laps.

"I started fourth in my first race in Texas and I went on a different fuel strategy the last part of the race so I was saving fuel more than those in front of me but a yellow came out late in the race so it didn't work out for me," said Mutoh. "I still finished sixth so it wasn't bad, but could have been better if the yellow hadn't come out. Everyone needed one more pit but I didn't so it would have been good if the yellow hadn't come out. Near the end of the race, I think Marco and Ryan crashed in the last corner and that was it for my fuel strategy. Last year I didn't have enough speed in qualifying but I had a very good race car, so, as the race went on I started to pass people. But then I had an electrical problem and we couldn't find out what was wrong so we retired from the race."


Mutoh is in his first season with the team and has only raced on two ovals with NHR so far this season. He qualified and ran fourth on the 1.5-mile oval at Kansas Speedway before he retired with 14 laps to go after contact while avoiding a lapped car in the middle of the track on a restart. He ran competitive times in practice while simulating race conditions for the Indy 500 and progressed to the Pole Shootout but struggled with handling issues in the race. Due to the configuration of Texas Motor Speedway, he is confident the team will display their Kansas form at the 1.5-mile, high-banked track in Texas. "On ovals so far, we ran in the top-four in Kansas but struggled a little bit in the race in Indy. Indy and Texas are totally different types of tracks. The setup for Texas is more like for Kansas so I think we will be strong here."


"I'm happy the race is at night because it will not be as hot but I wish we had more practice at night. There is a huge difference between the temperature during the Friday practice time and Saturday night race. We have a 30 minute practice on Friday night but it would be great to have more time then. We will have to adjust the setup for the change in conditions and it will be easy to be a little off so we will be careful."

-source: nhr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Andretti , Graham Rahal , Paul Newman , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Carl Haas , Hideki Mutoh