2009 IRL Team Reports: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing

IRL Team reports for the 2009 IRL season

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Postby mlittle » Fri May 08, 2009 10:41 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL AND DOORNBOS GAIN VALUABLE PRACTICE TIME AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Graham Rahal, No 02 McDonald's Dallara Honda/Firestone: "The new McDonald's car seems pretty quick. It feels really good, it's very comfortable to drive. We made one change that we ended up going back on because it wasn't as good as what we had before but we're making steady progress and we were looking good there at the end. It's just unfortunate that we didn't get to do any tire runs because we had a gearbox issue. We had done a 223 (mph) on an out lap which wasn't flat which says a lot. The speed is definitely there. Helio seems to be really fast on his own but I think we're close behind. I feel pretty good about our day and I can't wait to get back out there again tomorrow to see how the car is. The McDonald's car, handling-wise is pretty comfortable, it's really nice to drive. I think we have made a lot of gains since we ran here last year. I'm definitely looking forward to qualifying because I think we have a shot at being on the first couple of rows."

Robert Doornbos, No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "I'm so happy to be here at the Indy 500. I was here before for the Formula One races in 2005 and 2006 but to be here for the Indy 500, you know you are part of something special. You feel the vibe when you see the row of bricks and feel part of the history. I really like driving on the ovals. Rookie Orientation went well and I was able to get up to speed quickly so I was looking forward to getting back on track. Arie Luyendyk has been coaching me and helping me make some changes to the car and we have run well. It has been fun today. We stayed inside the top four for most of the day and it is looking good. It was nice to be P1 for a while even though it's just testing. It's a good motivator for everybody including the driver. I'm feeling comfortable and I really enjoy driving here. I liked the qualifying format in Kansas and I am looking forward to doing it here where it has always been done this way."
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Postby mlittle » Sat May 09, 2009 11:19 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL CONTINUED PREPARATION FOR TOMORROW'S POLE DAY FOR THE INDY 500; DOORNBOS UNINJURED IN PRACTICE CRASH AFTER SETTING FIFTH FASTEST TIME TO THAT POINT

Graham Rahal, No 02 McDonald's Dallara Honda/Firestone: "I think the McDonald's team got quite a bit done today. The car felt pretty good there at the end. We kept working on it at the end and it got a little bit better but we still need to improve it. I think we still need to trim it out a little bit more to get up there with the big guys. Something is amiss to me compared to yesterday and I'm not exactly sure what it is but something in the car feels like there is more drag. We need to figure out what that is, improve on it and go forward for tomorrow. It's a good thing we finished the day without any incidents on our side because we only had one spare car between Robert and I and they are putting an engine in it after he crashed. That was definitely going through my head. I need to qualify for the Indy 500 tomorrow and if something were to happen we might not have been able to."

Robert Doornbos, No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "Going into Turn 1, I felt something really light on the front of the car and then I brushed the wall. Then I went into the Turn 2 wall. Hopefully, it was just driver error and nothing went wrong on the car and we are able to fix it and come back strong tomorrow. The guys worked hard to put an engine in the spare car and get back out for a few installation laps at the end. I'm looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow morning and experiencing my first Pole Day for the Indy 500."
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Postby mlittle » Sun May 10, 2009 12:54 pm

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL QUALIFIED FOURTH FOR THE INDY 500; DOORNBOS UNINJURED IN CRASH DURING MORNING WARMUP AND WILL RETURN TO TRACK MAY 14

Graham Rahal, No 02 McDonald's Dallara Honda/Firestone: "We knew that before (on first qualifying attempt) we weren't quite trimmed out, and there is probably still a little room to go even now, but we needed to go out there and give it another shot. We were completely legal, but there were some things that we felt we needed to improve on. Basically we felt we needed to go back out so we gave the McDonald's car another shot and it turned out even better than the first time and we ended up gaining two spots because right before we made our second run we were sixth. So we're pretty happy with fourth. We had one practice run before our second attempt at it was a little bit quicker so we decided to trim a little more. But when we went out we had a gearbox problem and it was 5 p.m. and people were starting to get in line so it was a little tense. The McDonald's guys changed the gearbox in pit lane and we had to make our qualifying run without a practice lap because of the time. They did a great job fixing everything so quickly and I was able to go out and put it on the second row. I would rather start from the inside of the second row than the outside of the front row so I'm pretty happy with how the day ended for the McDonald's team."

Robert Doornbos, No. 06T Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone: On the crash: "I have no idea what happened. I'm so disappointed. The guys did an amazing job getting the car ready. We had a good first outing. Everything felt good. We were just starting a run and the rear just went on me. I don't know what happened. It's disappointing because I wanted to qualify today.

"Yesterday we got into a nice rhythm again in practice and found ourselves in the top-six. And then we just tried to simulate a qualifying run but that was a bit tricky with the other cars on track and it caught me out. I learned a very expensive lesson that you need to be really on your own to do a good comparison of qualifying and I was probably too close to the car in front, understeered, touched the wall and that was it. That was (the end of) our day. So then we worked hard overnight and got the spare car out this morning. I slept a little bit bad wondering if it would be a good car but after the first run when we were straight away competitive I thought 'Okay, this is going to be a good day.' But then we just couldn't pace ourselves; we wanted too much, too soon and that was it. It was a big shock for me to realize that I'm not going to be able to qualify in the top-11 on my first Indy debut. But a lot of people cheered me up by saying that it's such a long race and a lot can happen. I know we have the pace, I know we have the speed. The team is doing a good job and we will get back out there next week."
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Postby mlittle » Tue May 12, 2009 1:05 pm

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL UTILIZES MASTERFUL DRIVING AND LUCK TO AVOID CRASHED CAR IN PRACTICE FOR THE INDY 500

Graham Rahal, No 02 McDonald's Dallara Honda/Firestone: "We were just hoping for a smooth day of practice for the McDonald's team and it was going good but with John's incident there at the end we decided to call it a day. I just had to react as quickly as I could.

When I was told the yellow came out I was going to go high then I saw the debris. Stuff was flying everywhere, the car basically exploded when he hit. So I tried to go to the high side and right when I went to the high side, he started to roll backwards into my path and I was going to t-bone him basically so I turned hard left and hit the brakes as hard as I could and it locked up the rears as I did and that's why I spun. More than anything I was just lucky that I could keep it off both the inside and outside walls. Keeping it off the inside wall was just luck because I took my hands off the wheel. I got out of the throttle coming out of Turn 1 but of course you can't hit the brakes too hard so I lifted as much as I could and tried to look ahead and see how to react. When he hit, debris was flying everywhere. There were wings flying and all sorts of things and I think I was hit by one of the tire ramps. I decided to go high and that's where he went too unfortunately and I was just lucky that I could move to the inside enough to where I didn't collect him. I haven't seen a replay but to be honest, I was really lucky.

We both were. It was only a half of a second after it happened before I got to the scene and we're just lucky it wasn't uglier than it is. The car is okay. I think I hit one of his tire ramps hit my left front suspension and bent it but we saved all the big stuff. The only reason we couldn't drive it back is because the right side tires are flat but I'll happily take that. It's better than putting the McDonald's car in the wall."
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Postby mlittle » Fri May 15, 2009 3:20 pm

DOORNBOS BACK ON TRACK IN PREPARATION FOR INDY 500 QUALIFYING SATURDAY; McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL WORKED ON RACE SETUP

Graham Rahal, No 02 McDonald's Dallara Honda/Firestone: "Overall I think we made a lot of improvements to the McDonald's car for the race but the wind was a big factor today. Right now the wind is not being very nice to us but we certainly got better towards the end of the day. We still have a long way to go to get ready for the race but I am confident we will get there. We're getting closer and getting a better pace. With a little more work we will be right on. I think we are close to the Ganassi boys and they are usually strong in the race. I am confident we will continue to improve and have a good balance in the car for the race."

Robert Doornbos, No. 06T Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "It was good to get back in the car, get back to work. It was horrible watching other drivers play and have fun while I was in my bus. Unfortunately we had a bad day today. We seemed to be going the wrong direction with the setup a little bit and I haven't been enjoying driving the car. The wind condition was a bit tricky today as well. The speed is definitely in the car. This is the same car that we did good things with during Rookie Orientation and over the next days we proved to be in the top-11. Now we just need to show it again, it's somewhere in the car. We're trying to find the sweet spot for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We have another day tomorrow. We're going to work hard overnight and should have a good day tomorrow."
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Postby mlittle » Sat May 16, 2009 10:41 am

DOORNBOS AND McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL CONTINUED TO WORK ON RACE SETUP; DOORNBOS TO MAKE QUALIFYING ATTEMPT TOMORROW

Graham Rahal, No 02 McDonald's Dallara Honda/Firestone: "I think the McDonald's team made quite a lot of progress on our race setup from where we started to where we finished today. Certainly it wasn't ideal when we started but I think we got quite a lot closer at the end and I was pretty happy running with (Ryan) Briscoe, Helio (Castroneves), Tony (Kanaan) and Dario (Franchitti) there for a while. There is still a little more speed to be found but we will park the McDonald's car now and try to find that last bit of speed on Carb Day. The McDonald's boys have worked hard and deserve a few days off back home. "

Robert Doornbos, No. 06T Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "It was our plan to forget about tomorrow (qualifying) and work on the race car but to be honest it (qualifying) was always in the back of my mind because we are in a strange situation. We have a fast car but we are not qualified. You just want to make sure you are in the show and then you start working on the race car. I am quite happy; we found a good car. We ran in traffic and did some good lap times and were in the top-10 at the end of the day so that's not bad. Obviously tomorrow morning we have to go back a little bit to qualifying mode. Maybe not as much as we would have done running in the top-11 but yes, you do have to change the mindset a bit. I am comfortable though."
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Postby mlittle » Mon May 18, 2009 1:19 am

DOORNBOS FASTEST QUALIFIER ON DAY 3 FOR THE INDIANAPOLIS 500; WILL START 23RD FOR THE 93RD INDY 500

Robert Doornbos, No. 06T Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "There was so much stress involved since I missed qualifying last week. It was the most stressful four laps I have done in my whole career just because there was a lot of pressure on this run. I found myself qualifying for a race that I was doing race setups for yesterday for a race I wasn't even in yet. I hardly slept the last couple of days. We had to crawl back from such a deep, deep hole. We made a mistake and here you pay a big price for it. It's a weird feeling and I hope I never experience it again. We can just have a clean one next year and get in on the first day. To come back like we did show a lot of character for the team and myself. It's good to be in the show, we did some good laps. You have to respect the place. From the first laps we were really on the pace. Arie (Luyendyk), at one stage said 'I'm going back to Phoenix because you don't need me anymore.' We did 223's and 224's at the beginning of the month but progressed too fast and it caught us out and we crashed after taking too much downforce out. To come back from that, you need a lot of backbone as we saw in Holland. You need to motivate each other and that's what we did. It's good to be in the show, we can only go up. It was so windy that it was like I was sailing in Turn 1. I had a good first lap and improved each lap by the third lap and on the last lap I had a mega, mega wind gust and had to really lift which hurt my average but it's good to be qualified. To be the fastest today was our target and I'm glad we achieved it."
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Postby mlittle » Tue May 19, 2009 1:19 am

DOORNBOS SPENT BUMP DAY FOR THE 93RD INDY 500 WORKING ON RACE SETUPS

Robert Doornbos, No. 06T Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "Today was a good day. We set some targets for ourselves in order to get a good race car. Unfortunately we never really found a lot of traffic to play in but I feel comfortable in the car and that is the most important thing and our main target. I'm looking forward to next week and keeping busy with the publicity work for the IndyCar Series in the coming days."
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Postby mlittle » Sun May 24, 2009 9:35 pm

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL AND HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER DOORNBOS COMPLETE FINAL PRACTICE PRIOR TO THE 93RD INDY 500

Graham Rahal, No 02 McDonald's Dallara Honda/Firestone: "The McDonald's car felt super-nice. It's pretty comfortable to drive in and out of traffic. We definitely have the pace to run with the rest of the big boys, that's for sure. At the end we were going to get a killer lap, and I think a lot of the guys ahead of us on the time sheets got decent tows, but Tag (Tagliani) pulled into the pits in front of me and there went my killer lap. We are really happy with the car though and especially happy with our pace if we are in the lead pack. I think we are really fast. There are very few guys that are as quick as us so I'm pretty happy."

Robert Doornbos, No. 06T Hole in the Wall Camps Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "It wasn't a great session. We had some issues with the car which cost us a lot of time at the beginning of the session. Then we got out and up to speed and it wasn't that comfortable to drive so we are going to go back to the setup we used when we worked on the race setup when we ran the car last weekend and hopefully it is good enough for the race."
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Postby mlittle » Sun May 24, 2009 9:38 pm

ROBERT DOORNBOS TO RUN HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS SIGNAGE ON CAR IN THE INDY 500 AS A TRIBUTE TO PAUL NEWMAN

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 23, 2009) --- The No. 06 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) entry in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 for Robert Doornbos will carry the Hole in the Wall Camps (HITWC) logo on its sidepods during the race as a tribute to late team owner Paul Newman, who first took an interest in auto racing while filming the 1968 movie "Winning" at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"I'm honored to have the Hole in the Wall Camps on my race car for the Indy 500," said Doornbos. "The owners decided to run these colors as a tribute to Paul and I am proud to represent such an extraordinary man and the organization he founded to bring happiness to seriously ill children. I met him when I raced against the team in Champ Car and he was one of the first to congratulate me on my win in Mont Tremblant and told me he enjoyed the battle. I know that he was competitive just like me and like everyone at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and I will try to do my best to make the Hole in the Wall Camps proud on Sunday."

In 2008 it was announced that the HITWC would become an official charity of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and earlier this month IMS donated the use of a floor in the Pagoda for race day. Tickets were sold for $1500 each with all proceeds to be contributed to HITWC.

"We are pleased to make the opportunity of viewing the Race from Pagoda Suite One available to members of the racing community for the benefit of the Hole in the Wall Camps that were so close to Paul Newman's heart," said Tony George, chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition, NHLRdriver Graham Rahal announced on Friday the formation of the Graham Rahal Foundation and the commitment to make the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps the primary beneficiary. For more information on the camps, please visit www.holeinthewallcamps.org.
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Postby mlittle » Tue May 26, 2009 10:43 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL AND HOLE IN THE WALL CAMPS DRIVER DOORNBOS RETIRED FROM THE INDY 500 DUE TO CONTACT

McDonald's driver Graham Rahal started fourth in his second Indy 500 and was in fifth when he made contact while attempting to lap a backmarker on Lap 56 of 200 and retired in 31st place. At the start of the race, fifth and sixth place starters Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan passed him and he dropped to sixth place. He held sixth place until the first pit stop on Lap 23 under caution for Ryan Hunter-Reay who made contact. The McDonald's crew completed a quick stop and Rahal took fifth place from Kanaan in the pits before returning to the track. He held his position through the restart and until Lap 56 when he was attempting to lap Milka Duno. While trying to pass her, he drove high on the track and into the tire marbles which limited his ability to steer his race car and made contact with the wall exiting Turn 4. He retired in 31st place and collected 10 points to drop from an eighth place rank to 11th with 82. Following are his post race comments:

"We all caught traffic, basically," said Rahal. "Milka (Duno) got in front of me, and she was absolutely clueless. She would go low like she was going to let everybody by, but then she'd go fast enough where you can't get by her. She would come out on track and run you real tight. I tried to go half a car width up in (Turn) 4 and it just went straight. Same thing I did last year. I'm really upset and disappointed. The McDonald's car was feeling good. We had the pace to stay with the leaders. We couldn't get close enough to pass, but still it's disappointing."

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing driver Robert Doornbos competed in his first Indianapolis 500 and had climbed to 15th from his 23rd place starting position, contact on Lap 51 took him out of contention and he ultimately retired in 29th place after briefly returning to the track after the team repaired his race car. He gained two positions on the start and was up to 20th before his first pit stop on Lap 23 under caution. A quick stop gained him two positions and he retired in 18th place. By Lap 38 he was in 16th place and held the position until Lap 51 when Tomas Scheckter made a late pass going into Turn 4 and Doornbos was in the marbles and brushed the wall heavily exiting Turn 4. He immediately came into the pits and the team determined that the right rear upper and lower wishbone needed to be replaced so they pushed the car to the garage area. Around Lap 98 while the field was under caution Doornbos returned to the track 41 laps down to the leaders. He ran a dozen or so laps before he pitted again with a leak in the brake system and ultimately retired in 28th place. Helio Castroneves earned his third Indy 500 win with Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick finishing second and third respectively. He collected 10 points and is ranked 15th in the standings with a total of 69 and maintained his lead in the Rookie of the Year standings. Following are his post race comments.

"I was so happy that we finally started racing today," said Doornbos. "I wanted to get going. On the grid I was so impressed to be part of this race. On my first stint, I was in traffic and I think we were on schedule because we made up eight places already and were running in the top 15 a quarter through the race. The car was decent, the car was good but then Tomas (Scheckter) made an over-optimistic pass in Turn 1 very late and left me no where to go on the marbles. It felt like forever, forever as the wall was getting closer and I just brushed it and we bent something and it was our day basically. It's very unfortunate because he could have tried to pass a bit later and we would still be running but that's the Indy 500 I guess. We went back to the garage and changed the right rear upper and lower wishbone and got back out to get some points and experience but we had poor brakes. It felt like we had some liquid from the brakes leaking on the rear end which made to car feel really loose. We came in and found there was a leak so we parked it. It's very disappointing."

Next Up...The team will compete at "home" next weekend when they return to the Milwaukee Mile for the ABC Supply Company A.J. Foyt 225.
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Postby mlittle » Sat May 30, 2009 8:04 am

Milwaukee: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing preview


McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL RETURNS TO THE MILWAUKEE MILE AFTER STARTING SECOND HERE LAST YEAR: DOORNBOS MAKES HIS DEBUT AT THE TEAM'S HOME TRACK

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 29, 2009) --- The legendary Milwaukee Mile is the site of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's (NHLR) most recent victory on an oval and the team hopes to make Sunday's ABC Supply / AJ Foyt 225 the site of their 108th and most recent win overall. NHLR driver Sebastien Bourdais called his 2006 victory here from pole the most memorable of his championship-winning year because of the gains the team had made on that type of track over previous years. McDonald's driver Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos hope to repeat that sentiment.

In only his third oval race of his career, Graham Rahal, then 19, qualified second to Marco Andretti here last year by a slim deficit of 2/10ths-of-a-second over a four lap average and started second. With one year of experience in the IndyCar Series Rahal feels he and the team can be even stronger.

"Milwaukee last year was a great event for us,' said Rahal, who became the youngest pole winner in IndyCar Series history in St. Petersburg this year and also started from pole on the oval in Kansas two races ago. "We were fast right away and the car felt really good and we were really happy with it. I didn't really think we would have a shot at pole but it felt pretty good and it was nice to earn what was my best start all season. It was very close and I think that this year we should have an even better shot at running up front at the Milwaukee Mile. Losing pole by 2/10ths of a second over four laps is nothing and I think we should be strong again."

Unfortunately Rahal was unable to maximize the potential of his fast race car after running between second and fourth place until Lap 130 of 225 when his strong run came to an end. While attempting to lap the slower car of Darren Manning, he drove over "marbles" and lost control of his race car and hit the wall. He subsequently retired in 25th place but both he and the team hope to put the experience they have gained since then to use and finish strong.

"Last year in the race I got a little bit impatient trying to pass Darren Manning on the outside and it bit me," said Rahal. "I know when I go back there, and from here on out, that certainly won't be the case and we're going to make sure that we make it to the end. Our car was very good so it was very disappointing. Both myself and the team have learned quite a lot since last year. At the same time we haven't really tested or raced on a short oval since so it's a bit of an unknown how competitive we will be until we get there. Our race car was very good last year so we should be right up to pace. Is it possible for us to win this year? It is, without a doubt. I expect no less than that. I expect that we can run up front and I certainly think it's possible for the McDonald's team to be a contender."

The 2009 event at the Milwaukee Mile will mark the 26th time for NHLR to compete here in their 27th season. Due to the track being located only one hour from the Lincolnshire, Ill.-based race shop, in addition to team co-owner, Carl Haas' role as the promoter of racing events here from 1992 to 2003, the event is considered the team's home race. IndyCar Series rookie Robert Doornbos, 27, utilized the proximity to the race shop and spent some quality time in the area following last Sunday's Indy 500.

"The team is obviously based very close to the track so I visited the guys at the race shop and also look forward to having the shop-based people at the track supporting us," said Doornbos. "Hopefully that will give us the extra bit of competitiveness which we can use to beat everyone and get a successful result. I've been spending my time chilling out in Chicago and I went to see the boys at the race shop and did some fitness training and sightseeing in Chicago. I'm looking forward arriving to the Milwaukee Mile on Friday and getting back to work."

The team's previous win here in 2006 was their 94th overall. Since then they have earned 13 more for a total of 107 with those wins having come on road and street courses which made up the majority of the Champ Car series. Of the 13 remaining tracks the team will compete on the remainder of the season, Doornbos has only competed on two. But if his oval racing debut at Kansas Speedway was any indication, he should be able to get up to speed quickly at every course.

"I'm looking forward to racing in Milwaukee very much," said Doornbos. "Hopefully it's going to be as good as Kansas was for us so we can just pick up where we left off and be competitive. I don't know much about the track. I've never been there as will be the case with all of the circuits I will race on the rest of the season except Toronto and Edmonton. They will all be new so it's quite a new adventure."

In his oval debut in Kansas, Doornbos qualified second to Rahal and led two laps after the first round of stops before a pit penalty from hitting Rahal's tire dropped him to the back. He was able to recover and finish 12th although he and the team hoped for more. Ironically the previous time the team started 1-2 in a race was here at the Milwaukee Mile in 2006 when Bourdais and then-teammate Bruno Junqueira qualified 1-2, in what was the team's first pole here in 21 years and second overall. The race was not without drama though as Bourdais overcame a punctured tire, which put him one lap down, to bring the team its first win here in 10 years. A win at "home" would not only be the perfect reward for all of the hard work and dedication the team has shown since their transition to the predominantly-oval IndyCar Series, it would also be evidence of the gains made on this these types of tracks.

This weekend's ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 can be seen live Sunday, June 1 on ABC, beginning at 3:30 p.m. EDT. The event will get underway with a half-hour rookie practice, followed by practice and qualifying on Saturday and the 225 lap race on Sunday. As always, fans can follow the action from every on-track session via the official website of the IndyCar Series, www.indycar.com. It will also be broadcast live on IMS Radio Network, XM Radio 145 and Sirius 211.
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Postby mlittle » Sun May 31, 2009 11:49 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL QUALIFIED SECOND FOR THE ABC SUPPLY / A.J. FOYT 225 AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE; DOORNBOS QUALIFIED 12TH FOR HIS THIRD OVAL RACE

Graham Rahal, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The McDonald's car felt pretty good but I had a big snap and a big moment on the last lap and our fourth lap time was three-tenths slower than the previous one. If that hadn't happened I think we would have had pole. We sat on pole so many times this year that we are a little bit spoiled. At the end of the day the McDonald's boys are doing a great job. Pretty much we showed up today exactly how we ended last year because we are pretty competitive. We worked on race trim in the morning and the car was pretty quick. We're going to put on the set up we had for the race last year. The car was good but I made a mistake. If there was a race from last year that still bothers me it was this one. The McDonald's boys practiced stops this morning. If I hit my marks, all our stops go well and get to the end we should be able to have a good finish and be a contender. We have a shot at it tomorrow."

Robert Doornbos, No. 06 Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "We were a bit too risky on the gearing. Our gear was definitely too long and you don't want to be shifting at this place. Unfortunately it didn't work out. I go from one surprise to another on these ovals because they have all been different so far. I want to invite all my mates from Europe, in F1 or whatever series, to try this because it is so different from what I am used to. Every weekend is a new surprise. I got dizzy actually this morning after the first couple of laps. The car changes every lap in the race. I wish everyone had an on-board camera to show how much work we do on every lap during the race -- especially here. I'm going to be a busy man in the race. People in the US love the oval racing and I am starting to enjoy it as well. We had a good run in Kansas. At this one, we have struggled a little bit more but we should be fine tomorrow in the race."
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Postby mlittle » Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:04 pm

NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING RETURNS TO TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY FOR THE BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550k; TMS HAS BEEN A BIG PART IN THE TEAM'S PROGRESS ON OVALS

FORT WORTH (June 3, 2008) --- Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) will head south for their second event at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS), site of Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550k. The 1.5-mile, high-banked track has served as a baseline for the team's ongoing goal of closing the gap on ovals to their fellow IndyCar Series (ICS) competitors that have utilized the current racing package since 2003. Data gained while running at TMS has helped the team measure their progress on ovals since they joined the ICS in 2008.

"The Texas track is bumpy so you need a good setup of springs and dampers for mechanical grip," said Craig Hampson, senior engineer at NHLR. "However, at the big speedways in the IndyCar Series, your car speed is mainly dictated by aerodynamics so these tests have been invaluable to try andevaluate various items on the cars. At each of these tests we've been running alone, so the results were not clouded by traffic or tows. The information gathered has been very useful."

Data gained from their first race here in June of 2008 was compared to data from the team's test at TMS in October 2008 and the information showed that gains had been made over the five oval races since they first competed at TMS. When it was determined that ICS rookie Robert Doornbos would team with McDonald's driver Graham Rahal, NHLR scheduled another test at TMS on April 8, to acclimate the rookie to the high-banked oval and the data indicated even more progress over the off-season. The following weekend the team competed at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval and the results spoke for themselves. Rahal became the youngest pole winner on an oval in series history while Doornbos out-qualified longtime ICS teams and started second in his oval racing debut.

"Texas has played a big role in our development on ovals," said Rahal, 20, who earned his highest oval finish of fourth place in his 12 oval races to date last weekend in Milwaukee. "We tested there a couple of times and we could see the pace and the progress that we made. We're looking forward to going back to TMS and giving it another shot. I think I have adjusted to ovals quite well. I feel a lot more comfortable this year than I did last year. Every time I race it helps me with the transition and we are able to get the cars to work better with the changing conditions in each race. The more racing we do on ovals, the more comfortable we get. Racing is the biggest thing that can help us make sure we have a competitive car and one that is comfortable in traffic during the race."

"With the banking it was an amazing experience when we tested there," added Doornbos, 27. "It went really well, it was a good test. We found a lot of good stuff for the car that we can use throughout the season. It will only be my fourth race on an oval so I hope to learn as much as possible before the race and I'm sure I will gain even more experience in the race. I was able to get up to speed quickly when we tested there in April and I'm sure there will be plenty of excitement when everyone is on track together."

The IndyCar Series has held races at Texas Motor Speedway since 1997 and the track has featured the closest racing in series history. In 19 races on the 1.5-mile oval since 1997, 13 have been determined by less than one second. Six races had a margin of victory of less than one-tenth of a second on the tracks that features 24-degree banking in the turns.

"I'm looking forward to going back to Texas; it's a crazy race but it's certainly very competitive there," said Rahal who finished 11th here last year. "We showed that we have the pace this year when we raced at Kansas, which is very similar to Texas, and also at Indy and Milwaukee, and I think that it's going to definitely help us get better results. Racing is very close at Texas Motor Speedway so we have to make sure we are far up in the field and very competitive."

After starting second in his oval debut in Kansas, Doornbos led two laps before a pit penalty forced him to the back of the field but he charged back to finish 12th. In Indianapolis, he was again on the pace but two crashes prior to Pole Day forced him to qualify on the third day which set positions 23-33. He brushed the wall during the Indy 500 while struggling with the handling of his race car and finished 28th. His third different type of oval at the Milwaukee Mile again provided valuable experience. He started 12th and finished 14th and after the race remarked that he thought he should run well in Texas as he felt the track would suit his driving style. He's looking forward to another challenge this weekend.

"I hear that the race at Texas Motor Speedway is one of the most exciting ever and that your heart will be racing for sure because you can drive three abreast and it's very close racing," said Doornbos. "It's one of the most challenging ovals we race on during the season. I look forward to that now that I have a bit more experience on the ovals."

After five of 17 races this season, Rahal is ranked eighth in the point standings with 114 while Doornbos is ranked 15th with 85 and is only three points behind fellow ICS rookie Raphael Matos in the Rookie of the Year standings. Of the team's 107 victories, 27 have come on ovals while 19 of their 109 poles have been earned on the same type of track. For NHLR to earn their first ICS oval win in Texas would provide further evidence that the second most successful active open wheel team will be a contender every weekend.
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Postby mlittle » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:09 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL SEVENTH FASTEST IN PRACTICE FOR THE BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550k AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY; DOORNBOS 13TH

Graham Rahal, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "I think that overall the McDonald's car is quite good, pretty competitive. Right away we showed we had the speed. On the first outing the car felt really good and we got up to speed quickly and that is always a good omen. Of course there is still some speed to be found but overall the car feels good, it feels competitive. It will be interested to see who is where in qualifying because everybody is so close in race trim that it's going to be tough to really know who is quick or not. Quite frankly it's going to take looking at some data and the lap chart plot to see where we really stack up but the car is close."

Robert Doornbos, No. 06 Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "Obviously this is a very challenging place and very impressive with the banking. We are doing our homework well during the session and not driving silly times with a tow. You have to qualify on your own tomorrow so hopefully this will pay off. I feel comfortable in the car and I'm happy with the 06 crew, they are working very hard and I think its time for us to have a nice result. We have earned it. Driving here at night is very different. The sparks are going to be great for the fans to look at, especially in the beginning of the race. For the driver, it takes a bit to get used to. You have a whole different bio rhythm during the day. You try to eat a bit later, sleep a bit longer -- which isn't a bad thing. Visor choice is very important which I found out tonight. We will be in good shape Saturday evening."
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