Howard Finishes Third in Race ...
Howard Finishes Third in Race #1 of St. Pete Indy Pro Series Doubleleader; To Start Fourth in his #7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Entry in Sunday's Race #2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 1, 2006) Jay Howard scored his second consecutive third-place finish today in the first of this weekend's unique twin 40-lap IRL Indy Pro Series races around the 1.8-mile Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg temporary street course.
Howard, a Brit who has lived in St. Petersburg for the last 14 months, started his #7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Dallara racing machine campaigned by Sam Schmidt Motorsports from the fourth spot on the grid, waged a fierce battle for the race lead through the early-to-middle part of the event, and ultimately came home in third place.
He moved up in close pursuit of polesitter and eventual race-winner Raphael Matos, momentarily took the lead on a Lap-26 restart, but gave the position back to Matos some four laps later while struggling with an understeer condition.
The third-place finish put Howard in the outside-second-row starting position for Sunday's 11:30 a.m. EDT race, whose starting grid under this weekend's unique doubleheader format is set by today's finishing positions, with today's top six finishers inverted. He won the pole and finished third at last Sunday's IPS season opener on the Homestead Miami Speedway 1.5.mile oval.
ESPN2 will combine this weekend's races into a single broadcast set to air next Friday (April 7) at 4 p.m. EDT.
Jay Howard, #7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Dallara:
"Obviously, everyone knows I'm now like a local boy here. I try my best to put on the best show possible. Unfortunately, I had quite a bit of bad understeer in the car right from the start. Initially, I could just hang on to Raphael (Matos). Then he started to pull away. After maybe 14 laps or so, it started really getting worse. We're going to make some changes, and we'll do our best to get a win for all the locals on Sunday, especially for all the friends and families that have come down. We've done a pretty good job so far. Touch wood, I have not hurt my car since I've driven it. I hope it stays that way. The guys are working hard enough. My guys are running around like crazy in qualifying making changes for me. Anything I can do for them, I'm glad to help. I raced against Raphael in Formula Mazda last year. I knew he was going to be fast, for sure. He's a good driver. He's done his job. The team has done a great job as well. All credit to them. It's all down to us guys to make our changes and work hard and see if we can win. We shall see."