LLOYD BEATS HEAT, RAHAL TO WIN LIBERTY CHALLENGE INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, July 1, 2006 -- It was 35 minutes before race time, the Indy Pro Series cars were ready to head to the starting grid for the Liberty Challenge, and Alex Lloyd was in the ...
LLOYD BEATS HEAT, RAHAL TO WIN LIBERTY CHALLENGE
INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, July 1, 2006 -- It was 35 minutes before race time, the Indy Pro Series cars were ready to head to the starting grid for the Liberty Challenge, and Alex Lloyd was in the infield care center receiving fluids.
Lloyd, a 21-year-old Englishman, recovered, survived 23 laps on a track that was 133 degrees at race time and recorded his first career Indy Pro Series victory, getting past Graham Rahal in Turn 1 during a restart on Lap 22. Lloyd took the white flag the next time past the flag stand and beat Rahal down the frontstretch by .666 of a second on Lap 23. The race was shortened two laps due to time constraints.
"I don't know what happened, really," said Lloyd, who gave AFS Racing its first victory. "It was just after the autograph session, I just came down with something. It was five past 2, I was still on the (intravenous) drip, and I knew that the cars were going. I wasn't properly changed, didn't have my helmet. I was thinking I wasn't going to be able to get out, but without question I knew I was going to get in the car and give it a go.
"I spoke to (IRL Ministry chaplain) Bob Hills before the race, and he said, 'You can barely speak; you can't race.' But I got my helmet on and got in the car. It's like anything, you get the helmet on, get the engine going, and you forget about any problems you had. You're there to do a job. It's what I've been doing since I was 9 years old. Doing the race wasn't an issue at all. You just drive through any problems you were having."
Rahal, the 17-year-old son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, led the first 21 laps from the pole. He went off course on the restart, relinquishing the lead.
"It was disappointing when the yellow came out," said Rahal, the youngest pole winner in Indy Pro Series history. "It was my race to lose, and when I went into (Turn) 1, I stood on the brakes and the thing just did not want to stop. It was unfortunate, but we just have to move on now."
Jonathan Klein, driver of the No. 27 Klein Tools/Turn-Key Forging entry for Andretti Green Racing, also took advantage of the restart to move from sixth to third and earn his first podium finish of the season.
"Thank God for the yellow flag," said Klein, whose previous best was three fifth-place finishes. "It didn't play out as well for some people with the yellow. For us, it was an advantage. On the restart, I kept my nose clean through Turn 1. There was a little bit of mayhem. I got around (Nick) Bussell and (Raphael) Matos on Turn 1. Matos and I were side-by-side for a lot of the second-to-last lap, but then I got in front of him for a little bit on the white-flag lap, and I was able to stay in front of him for the rest of the race."
Raphael Matos, who was engaged in a spirited battle for second with Lloyd and Wade Cunningham for much of the race, finished fourth. Nick Bussell was fifth.
Cunningham, who won the Freedom 100 on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, finished 16th after dropping out of the race on Lap 14. He and Indy Pro Series points leader Jay Howard made contact in the opening turn of the race. Howard was unable to continue and finished 18th. Howard retains a 12-point lead over Bobby Wilson, who finished ninth.
The Liberty Challenge will be televised on July 6 at 2 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2.
2006 USGP tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, July 2.
Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.
Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.
A three-day "Season Pass" for the event is only $60. The pass is good for admission to IMS for all three days of on-track activity, Friday, June 30-Sunday, July 2. All seating Friday and Saturday is general admission, and the pass provides general admission access to the Viewing Mounds, Infield, First Turn Terrace, South Terrace and Tower Terrace (Sections 39-77) on Sunday, July 2.
Reserved seats for Race Day, Sunday, July 2, start at $75.