2009 IRL Team Reports: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing

IRL Team reports for the 2009 IRL season

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Postby mlittle » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:11 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL TO START SIXTH FOR THE INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA; FUEL PUMP FAILURE LIMITED SERVIA TO 17TH PLACE START

Graham Rahal, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The McDonald's car felt pretty good all day especially for not having tested here. I thought we did a good job. When we showed up we were pretty close. There is still work to be done because we certainly we struggled quite a lot in that last session of qualifying. It wasn't a very comfortable feeling; we'd like to be closer than that. Overall the guys worked hard today. We made a lot of big changes over lunch and they worked out so they're going to sleep well tonight. We made the Firestone Fast Six again which means we made it every race this year but one and that is a good feeling. Now we just need to have a straightforward race tomorrow, save some fuel, get by some of these guys and be in it for the win."

Oriol Servia, No. 06 Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "We lost the first session because of a fuel pump problem which is never something you want to happen, especially when it is one of two road courses where it's a two-day event. If you miss the only practice you have before qualifying it doesn't help the team or myself. I needed laps under my belt. Most of the teams tested here last week and we didn't so we knew we came with a small handicap to catch up and not getting to run in the first practice session didn't help. I tried to do what I could in qualifying and I knew it would be difficult but you still try your hardest. I think we made big improvements every lap but this place is so special with all the blind corners. I loved it last year, I was very fast but it takes laps. It's just a shame that we couldn't make it happen for qualifying. We'll have to find a way to get to the front in the race."
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Postby mlittle » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:11 am

SERVIA DROVE TO A SIXTH PLACE FINISH AFTER STARTING 17TH IN THE INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA; CONTACT ON THE OPENING LAP LIMITED McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL TO A 21ST PLACE FINISH

Graham Rahal, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "I got a really good start and got past (Hideki) Mutoh and was hoping to tuck in behind Marco but I just tapped him and lost the wing. Then we came in to change the wing on the pit stop and the drive-shaft broke when I tried to leave. To be honest I can't tell you why it broke. I don't know if I released the clutch too soon. We looked at the data and it doesn't look like it so we're not sure why it happened but it broke no matter what. We fixed it and went back out later and the McDonald's car felt really good and we ran really fast laps. The amount of fuel we were saving was awesome, it was at a pretty impressive rate and a lot better than we thought we would. Ultimately we parked it when we knew there was no reason to stay out since we couldn't gain positions after we learned a lot."

Oriol Servia, No. 06 Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The weekend started as bad as it could which was not running in the only practice session before qualifying. But the car was good and I started to feel more comfortable with the track in the morning warmup and we were fifth fastest. It was just a matter of getting some clear laps to prepare. I knew we had a car to go fast. We saved a lot of fuel at the beginning which gave us an extra two or three laps on others and when they pitted we pushed and made up track position. For some reason I had a feeling that the start was going to be messy and it was; I don't even know what happened. I just saw (car) parts and more parts flying in the air.

There was a moment where I could have been a little more aggressive but you never know where the cars are going to be coming from. I'm happy no one touched us and we gained a lot of spots. Its always exciting racing with Justin; we've been racing together many years and its always as hard and fair as it gets. The proof of that is that he made a couple of over-optimistic maneuvers but he still managed not to wreck me or himself. It's what you expect from a real racer. I was on blacks (Firestone standard tires) and everyone was on reds so I was sliding all over the place, more than them. But the car was great and I was able to keep ahead of Justin. It's always exciting to come from the back and finish sixth. When you are that close to the front you always want more and you get a little hungrier. Considering how the weekend started and our starting position I think we should be pretty happy. It should be a good morale boost for the next couple of races and hopefully we're going to be at the front. I want to thank Carl, Berni (Bernadette) and Mike for the opportunity to race here. I enjoyed it."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:59 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL AND TEAMMATE SERVIA LOOKING FORWARD TO HOME RACE AT THIS SATURDAY'S PEAK ANTIFREEZE & MOTOR OIL INDY 300 AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY

JOLIET, Ill. (August 27, 2009) --- With three races to go in the 2009 IndyCar Series season, a win at this weekend's 200-lap Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway would not only help the team end the season on a high-note, it would also enable them to celebrate a win at a "home" event for the Lincolnshire, Ill-based team as well as their Oakbrook, Ill.-based sponsor McDonald's. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) drivers Graham Rahal and Oriol Servia are excited about the team's chance to earn a strong finish this weekend.

"I think we have the potential to get our first win of the season this weekend," said Rahal, who is only 34 points out of fifth place in the standings in ninth with 301. "It's important for us to get a good finish with McDonald's being here and it being a home race for the team. That's key, that's our Number One goal. I feel very confident that our first win on a 1.5 mile oval will come this year. I think that we can do it if everybody dots all the "i's" and crosses all the "t's." We should be looking pretty good for this race knowing that we were so strong in Kentucky."

"Being a home race always adds something specialto the event for the team," added Servia. "Not only does everyone have an extra bit of motivation but it also makes it especially sweet if we are able to earn a top result. Having therace on Saturday night adds another party effect on it that suits the occasion perfectly."

The PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 will be the ninth IndyCar Series event conducted at Chicagoland Speedway. While NHLR competed four times at Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero, Ill. from 1999-2002 with one win (Cristiano da Matta) and two podiums (2nd -- Michael Andretti), it will only be their second race at this track. Last year Rahal started 14th and ran as high as fifth but mid-race contact in the pits with Buddy Rice and contact with the wall on the final lap 0xdb6d most likely due to a compromised part from the pit contact -- led to a 19th place finish. Justin Wilson started 21st and finished 11th.

"It was a good race for us last year," Rahal said of running in the top five. "It was probably the first time last season that our car was super-competitive on an oval. We made it a long way in the race and we were running extremely well until we made contact with Buddy Rice in the pits. The car was extremely comfortable and fast so that gives us high-hopes for this year especially coming off the last oval race in Kentucky where we ran well with the new aero package and we were even better at Chicagoland last year than at Kentucky. The race will be extremely, extremely close at Chicagoland this year. There is no doubt about that."

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has earned 27 of the 107 wins and 19 of their 109 poles on ovals. The most recent oval win came at the Milwaukee Mile in 2006 by Sebastien Bourdais and their most recent pole came earlier this season at the 1.5 mile Kansas Speedway by Rahal, who became the youngest pole sitter on an oval in series history. Servia will make his first start for the team on an oval in the IndyCar Series after having competed in two ovals races for the team in 2005 where he finished on the podium both times with a third place finish at the Milwaukee Mile and second place start and finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He is looking forward to the opportunity to drive on an oval again with the team.

"I have been very impressed by the progress Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing has made on ovals," said Servia. "Seeing both cars on the front row in Kansas was an amazing accomplishment. I have always felt at home on ovals. I especially enjoy driving on short ovals but at the same time I always felt that the strategy needed at a super speedway suits me very well. All of that, combined with the speed that I know the car will have, makes me eager to jump in the car. As a former Champ car group we have shown what we can do in road and street races and I think we are all very confident of what we can do on ovals and this weekend is a perfect opportunity to show it."

Last year at Chicagoland Speedway Servia started the race 12th and was disappointed with a 17th place finish after his car was damaged when it was hit by debris which forced an unscheduled pit stop. He is hoping to greatly improve his finishing position here and is expecting a close race based on watching the previous oval race at Kentucky from the sidelines.

"Last year the Chicagoland race for me was a big disappointment because as a team I believe we came with the best car we had all season for a super speedway and had a good chance to finish in the top six in the points but early in the race a piece of debris from another car hit my mirror and basically destroyed our chances," said Servia. "Kentucky was a very exciting race and I don't expect Chicago to be any different. I am sure we will see a very close race with many cars having an opportunity to win it. I am truly excited about that as I believe we will be one of the contenders."

Honda Performance Development has allotted 20 presses of the overtake assist button (up from 10 at Kentucky) for 12 seconds each for the race this weekend, the second on an oval with this feature. The overtake assist option, instituted for the race at Kentucky Speedway, provides a 5-20 horsepower boost based on fuel setting and 200 RPMs (for a total of 10,500) for each time the system is engaged. A button is on each steering wheel. There is a 10-second recharge period between presses. Both drivers are expecting that Honda's new overtake system will make an impact again and Servia is looking forward to using it for the first time on an oval.

"The Push to Pass was good at Kentucky; it allowed me to catch up to the front pack in the last 12 laps," said Rahal, who finished fifth there after starting 10th based on point standings due to qualifying being cancelled. "Hopefully this time around we'll start a lot closer to the lead pack so I won't have to worry about coming from so far behind."

"Well I guess I will have to learn it (push to pass) through the race but it seems like it has become another good tool to have that plays an exciting role at the end of the race," added Servia. "Using it at the right time is very important as the time it takes to recharge can cost you the position you just got."

In the battle for the IndyCar Series championship, only 20 points separate the top-three with Ryan Briscoe, 497, Dario Franchitti, 493, and Scott Dixon, 477, in a battle that is about as close as it could be.

"The title fight couldn't be more exciting," said Servia. "It has become impossible to predict who will win the next race or who will be the most consistent. Not only do we have the usual contenders with Penske and Ganassi but we have new cars every weekend with a chance to win which makes the points allocation vary a lot every race. I think it is great for everybody involved and, more importantly for the fans, that it has become as competitive as it is right now."

"On the title front, I think Dario will probably win it because I think his consistency all year will probably get him there," predicted Rahal. "He struggled a little bit more on the ovals than (Ryan) Briscoe or (Scott Dixon) Dixie but I think he's looking pretty strong to finish on top."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:49 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL QUALIFIED FIFTH FOR THE PEAK ANTIFREEZE & MOTOR OIL INDY 300; SERVIA TO START NINTH

Graham Rahal, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The McDonald's car felt good all day, especially in traffic. I just kind of expected more in qualifying. I thought the McDonald's car was going to be a little quicker in qualifying trim but it still feels good to be fifth. I thought we would get a high 214 (mph) or low 215 but I can't complain about it since we're fifth. The guys have worked awfully hard to put the McDonald's car up front all year. We've just got to get the race part figured out. Our car is good in traffic so hopefully it will work out for us."

Oriol Servia, No. 06 Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The car feels amazing; it's really comfortable for me and has good speed. It's almost too comfortable for qualifying. In a way it's good because we still have decent speed which will be good for tomorrow. We're in good shape and I'm very excited to have a good oval car. I think we should have a great race tomorrow."
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Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:58 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL FINISHED FIFTH AFTER CHALLENGING FOR THE WIN IN THE FINAL LAPS OF THE PEAK ANTIFREEZE INDY 300; SERVIA FINISHED SEVENTH AFTER RUNNING AS HIGH AS FOURTH

Graham Rahal, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "Honestly, when I went up high I thought we were going to get it (win) finally because the car had so much momentum. The McDonald's car felt good all night and it's no doubt we will win one soon. I was just trying to get us an opportunity and we got it. I pulled out of the draft, went up high and it (momentum) just died. Unfortunately we just didn't have enough speed. When you go up that high the distance your taking there is massive and unfortunately we just didn't have enough speed. Before this race was the most nervous I've ever been. I was watching people darn near hitting each other on the back straight last night in the warm-up so I knew it would be a crazy race. It was action-packed from start to finish. The idea was to get up front and just try to stay there. If we could stay there, we were going to be with guys that know what they're doing. The McDonald's guys worked hard tonight. I told them we needed good stops and the second to last stop was what really put us in this position. It was great what we did tonight; the McDonald's car was top notch. It just shows that we can beat these guys. It's going to take some effort but for us to be where we are now we've got to be pretty happy."

Oriol Servia, No. 06 Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "It was the perfect race where you want to move to the front but you want to take your time because it's crazy out there. Just before the last stop I was fourth -- just where you want to be -- and I made a mistake coming in the pits. I tried to brake a little too late and went too far on the marks and we wasted a little too much time trying to get to the car with the fuel. It was my fault. They were still able to do it but we lost 10 positions. The car was good and we were able to make it back to seventh so I'm very happy that at least we ended with a decent result. I thought we had a car to fight for the win at the end. I would have liked to be at the front. It makes me feel really good for Motegi. I know that we have a really good car for the ovals and that I haven't lost my touch. I had a lot of fun tonight and I cannot wait until Motegi."
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Postby mlittle » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:03 am

INDY LIGHTS CHAMPION ALEX LLOYD TO DRIVE FOR NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING AT THE 2009 INDYCAR SERIES SEASON-FINALE AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (September 2, 2009) --- Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing announced today that 2007 Indy Lights Champion Alex Lloyd, 24, will drive the team's second entry at the 2009 IndyCar Series season-finale, the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 9-10, 2009.

The Firestone Indy 300 will mark Lloyd's second race this season after having competed in the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year where he qualified 11th and finished 13th in the historic event. Lloyd holds the distinction of being the only driver to win on both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course (Indy Lights, 2006) and famed oval (Indy Lights, 2007). He won eight of the 15 races en route to the 2007 Indy Lights championship including a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway after starting second. He also won five poles, finished in the top-five 13 times and led a total of 399 laps during his title-winning season.

Lloyd's championship in the 2007 Indy Lights Series and his terrific drive at the 2009 Indianapolis 500 bodes well for what he and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing hope to accomplish together.
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Postby mlittle » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:03 am

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL QUALIFIED FIFTH FOR THE INDY JAPAN 300; SERVIA TO START SEVENTH

Graham Rahal, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "I really enjoy this track. The McDonald's car has been working well since the second we showed up. I'm definitely happy with that; I couldn't ask for much more. We're working hard. Obviously we still have room to develop but we're competitive and that's where we want to be. It would be great to get a win this year -- that's the biggest thing. And there is a great opportunity for us here since the car has been good since we showed up."

Oriol Servia, No. 06 Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The car improved so much between the practice session and qualifying. The car had more in it than I was able to get out of it. Every lap I pushed more and more but I never got to the limit of the car even on the last lap so I'm pretty confident that there was a faster lap in the car. I'm not sure if the track was a lot better or we made the right changes. I am with a great team so I have to say they made the right changes. The good thing though is that tomorrow I have 200 laps to reach the potential. It feels like I have a great car under me and that's what we need to be consistent and get to the front tomorrow"
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Postby mlittle » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:47 am

Motegi: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing race report
Racing series INDYCAR
Date 2009-09-19

McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL MATCHED HIS BEST OVAL FINISH OF THIRD PLACE IN THE INDY JAPAN 300; SERVIA BROUGHT THE TEAM A FOURTH PLACE

Graham Rahal, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The McDonald's boys have been working awfully hard this entire time and we've had the pace and it's nice to get our first podium on a super speedway and second of the season on an oval. It's such an interesting track and a change from what we're used to with the classic super speedway shape. The McDonald's boys did a great job in the pits today and we saved a lot of fuel which put us in that position."

Oriol Servia, No. 06 Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "It was a very good race. I'm extremely happy for the team to finish just behind Ganassi is very good. I'm very pleased but obviously I would have preferred to be on the podium but Graham had a run on me there at the end and he got the best out of it. I'm happy with the performance, I'm happy that the team gave me the opportunity. We had a good four races and definitely gained momentum and I hope we can continue the momentum next year. I think we can be contenders for the championship if we start together from Day 1. That's what I really hope will happen. I'm happy how things have gone. I want to thank Carl and Bernadette Haas, Mike Lanigan and McDonald's for the opportunity."
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Postby mlittle » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:48 am

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing test news 2009-10-01
Racing series INDYCAR
Date 2009-10-01

ALEX LLOYD COMPLETED A ONE-DAY TEST WITH NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING IN PREPARATION FOR THE INDYCAR SERIES SEASON FINALE AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (October 1, 2009) -- Alex Lloyd completed a successful one-day test with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing last night at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval in preparation for the 2009 IndyCar Series season finale on October 10. Lloyd completed over 200 trouble-free miles in the No. 40202 HER Energy Dallara-Honda-Firestone entry with a best lap speed average of 211.4 mph.

"Today was a good day; we accomplished all of the miles we wanted to run and got plenty of laps in," said Lloyd, 24. "The main point of the day was to get myself comfortable in the car and get a good working relationship going with the team. The test went good and I think we all work well together. I think we had a good baseline for the car at the end of the day. I think we certainly proved that and the speed was pretty good. We have a good starting point for the race so I think we're all feeling pretty confident going forward. I can't wait to get back for the race."

The Firestone Indy 300 will mark the third IndyCar Series race of his career as well as the first with NHLR and first on a track other than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has competed on the Homestead track one other time, in 2007 during his championship winning season in the Firestone Indy Lights Series where he started second and won the event. Lloyd will team with McDonald's driver Graham Rahal, who is in his third season with NHLR, for the event.
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Postby mlittle » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:48 am

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing news 2009-10-07
Racing series INDYCAR
Date 2009-10-07

NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING PARTNERS WITH THE DAVID FOSTER FOUNDATION TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT ORGAN DONATION

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (October 7, 2009) -- Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing announced today that they are teaming with the David Foster Foundation to help raise awareness for organ donation beginning with the Firestone Indy 300 IndyCar Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 10.

"David has been a friend of the team for many years and we are excited to support one of his passions and help bring awareness to a potentially life-saving cause," said Carl Haas, co-owner with Michael Lanigan of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. "In addition to spearheading the efforts of the David Foster Foundation, he has been a supporter of two of our favorite causes, The Association of Hole in the Wall Camps and the Ronald McDonald House Charities. His philanthropic efforts were celebrated when he received the coveted "Award of Excellence" by the Ronald McDonald House Charities for his great support."

The David Foster Foundation is dedicated to providing financial support to families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants. The foundation was started more than 20 years ago by 15-time Grammy award-winning producer and songwriter David Foster. In the past two decades, the foundation has provided millions of dollars in support and assisted hundreds of families. The David Foster Foundation also has a mission to raise awareness about the importance of becoming a registered organ donor.

"This exciting new partnership with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing shows their amazing commitment to a cause that is very important to me and I'm thrilled that my upcoming concert tour will be opening in Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's hometown of Chicago later this month", said Foster, founder and chairman of the David Foster Foundation. "This partnership will help us promote the importance of becoming a registered organ donor with racing fans everywhere. Every year thousands die waiting for a transplant and far too many of them are children. Getting registered is easy, and by becoming a registered organ donor, someday you might save a life - there's no greater gift than that."

About David Foster and his Foundation...

David's upcoming "Hitman" 10-city concert tour opens October 21st in Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's hometown of Chicago. For more information on the tour or tickets, go to www.davidfoster.com. In addition to being a successful producer, songwriter, TV host, discoverer of talent, author, hitmaker and record company executive, David Foster is also a humanitarian. In 1986, he established the David Foster Foundation. In addition to being committed to raising awareness about the importance of organ donation, the foundation helps families with their non-medical expenses when their child needs a life-saving organ transplant. Be a Donor, Save a Life. www.davidfosterfoundation.com

About Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing...

Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) was formed by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas and began competing in 1983. The team is the second most successful open wheel team competing today. Prior to their 25th season of competition in 2007 the team name changed to Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing to reflect the addition of Michael Lanigan as partner. In 2009 the team is participating in their 27th season of open wheel competition and will attempt to add to the eight championships, 107 race wins and 109 pole positions they have earned to date. HER Energy driver Alex Lloyd will team with McDonald's driver Graham Rahal for the Homestead event.

For more information, log on to www.newmanhaaslaniganracing.com and www.davidfosterfoundation.org.
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Postby mlittle » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:36 am

NEWMAN/HAAS/LANIGAN RACING AIMS FOR THIRD WIN AT HOMESTEAD MIAMI SPEEDWAY; McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL TO MAKE HIS DEBUT HERE AND HER ENERGY DRIVER LLOYD TO MAKE HIS DEBUT WITH THE TEAM

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (October 7, 2009) --- The 2009 IndyCar Series season will conclude with Saturday's 200-lap Firestone Indy 300 at the variable-banked 1.5-mile Homestead Miami Speedway. McDonald's driver Graham Rahal will compete at the track for the first time and aim for his second series win as well as third pole of the season in an effort to earn a fifth place season-ending rank. Meanwhile new teammate Alex Lloyd will pilot the No. 40202 HER Energy entry in his return to the track for the first time since his 2007 Firestone Indy Lights win here and hopes to earn a strong result in only his third series start and debut with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR).

"I think the McDonald's team ought to be very competitive in the race," said Rahal who earned his second podium of the season of third place at the previous race in Japan. "I know Alex had a good test there and the team has a lot of momentum so I hope that we can get a good result, jump up in the standings further and carry the momentum to 2010. I think the goals have to be to get at least to sixth in the season-ending point standings and get up on the podium again. I feel that it is certainly possible and that our cars should be quick enough to compete with the top guys. If we run up front, that's the ultimate way to protect yourself from those around you in points."

NHLR enters the Homestead race weekend this year in a dramatically different position than in 2008. Last year's event here was the season-opener and first race for a unified open wheel series which meant the team had approximately one month to prepare for battle against other teams that had a five year head start with the racing equipment. The series allowed transition teams to test here on Monday and Tuesday of race week but Rahal, who had never run or competed on an oval before crashed in Turn 2 near the end of the test. Fortunately he was not injured but the team did not have enough time to repair the race car before the event and Rahal watched from the Spotter's Stand.

"Last year was a challenge for everyone on the team, and certainly I didn't make it any easier in testing," recalled Rahal, 20. "I really started to get comfortable on track and started trying to get in a tow and make some passes. I loved the track initially and the car was working well. I happened to just get by Oriol (Servia) then I lost it. I got a little high, the car bottomed and around it went. This made it really hard for everyone because we had just thrashed to get a car together, and then we needed to do it again for St. Pete. I learned a lot from watching from the spotters stand. It gives you great insight into how a race in the IndyCar Series works, although it is very tough to understand how it feels inside the car, and truly how close and tough the racing is. You get a birds' eye view of it, but as everyone can appreciate it's just not the same as the experience you get racing."

Homestead-Miami Speedway is one of few tracks on the IndyCar Series schedule that the team raced on prior to joining the series fulltime in 2008. It will be NHLR's seventh start here after competing at the track from 1996-2000 and in 2008. Michael Andretti brought the team two victories here (1997, 1998) and a second place finish in 1999 which looked like a possible win before he stalled on his final pit stop and had to settle for second while Christian Fittipaldi brought the team their highest start of fourth place in 1998. Rahal has been able to gauge the progress between tests at Homestead in 2008 and March 2009 and feels the team can be a contender for the victory on Saturday.

"I think we have come a long, long way since the last time we raced at Homestead," said Rahal, who is seventh in series points with a total of 366, only 15 behind fifth-place ranked Danica Patrick (381). "The team has done a great job catching up, and really I think we're very close to breaking through with a win. I think that we have not only come a long way since 2008 but even since testing in Homestead this season. We have vastly improved our performance since we drove last at Homestead and I look forward to seeing how far we have come. The season has certainly been up and down for everyone. We have had a lot of good moments and some that we all regret. I know that I am very happy with the performance of the entire team. We have made a huge improvement and I know that we will continue to do so this winter."

The Firestone Indy 300 will mark Alex Lloyd's second race this season after having competed in the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year where he qualified 11th and finished 13th for Sam Schmidt Motorsports/Chip Ganassi Racing. He made his series debut in the 2008 Indy 500 and the Homestead race will be his third series start. Despite being his first IndyCar Series race at a track other than Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Lloyd is confident that he and the team can put the No. 40202 HER Energy car up front.

"I don't think you can get any more pressure than Indy but for sure there is pressure when you only compete on a very limited schedule and when your experience level in the IndyCar Series is very low," said Lloyd, 24. "Having said that I feel well prepared for the race and I know I have a great team behind me. I think our goals are to run up front and I believe we can do that. I think the HER Energy car is capable of qualifying very high up the grid and if we can do that for sure we will be in a good place for a good strong race."

Lloyd will make his second start at the 1.5-mile Homestead Miami Speedway but his only other race here was about as successful as possible after he qualified second and won the event en route to the 2007 Firestone Indy Lights title for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. To prepare for his first race since the Indy 500 in May, he has been to the team's Lincolnshire, Ill.-base multiple times and has maintained his vigorous fitness regime.

"The test went very well," said Lloyd who ran over 200 trouble-free miles here last Wednesday. b^0x001cObviously I have been out of the race car since May so a big part of the test was to try and shake the rust off as much as possible. Prior to the test I prepared by cycling a lot and doing various weight routines. I spent some time with the engineers going over all the details of the car, setup and what to expect and that certainly helped in my preparation too."

Most drivers in the event will be looking to end their season with a strong result while Lloyd will be looking to get a head start on 2010.

"The title fight doesn't factor into my race," said Lloyd, who won eight of the 15 Lights races en route to his 2007 title. "I am racing for myself and of course the team and HER Energy and our priority is to have a good race. Obviously we don't want to cause any issues or troubles for any of the contenders and just let them battle it out between themselves but at the same time we do want to be mixing it up with these guys. I view this race as the beginning of my 2010 season. I want to use this race as a building block to hopefully serve me well next season."

Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is nearing the close of its 27th season and along the way the team has earned a total of eight championships by Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Cristiano da Matta and most recently Sebastien Bourdais. This history is not lost on Lloyd who followed the team since his fellow countryman Mansell earned back-to-back Formula One and CART titles in 1993.

"It is very surreal for me to be racing for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing," said the Manchester, England native. "I have been a huge fan of the team since I was nine years old watching (Nigel) Mansell race for them. I never would have imagined then that I would be driving for this team. It is certainly a dream come true and a real honor."

After hosting the season-opening race for the past six years, this year marks Homestead-Miami Speedway's move to the season finale. Chicagoland Speedway has hosted the past three season finales, with the IndyCar Series championship being resolved on the final lap of the race each year. Both Rahal and Lloyd expect a close fight between title contenders Scott Dixon (570), Dario Franchitti (565) and Ryan Briscoe (562).

"I know they have to go out there and race like they have all year," said Rahal. "If it's meant to be for that driver, then it will come together. I think Dixon will win the championship. The only reason I think that is he is a little stronger on the super speedways generally, but he is also very consistent."

"I think all three title contenders will go into the race with the approach to win," added Lloyd. "If one of those three wins the race, then they are the champion regardless of what the others do so for sure they need to try everything to win. My prediction is that it will be one of the two Ganassi cars. If I had to put money on it I would go with Dixon."

The 2009 IndyCar Series season concludes Oct. 10 with the Firestone Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 4 p.m. (ET) Oct. 10 by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com. A 90-minute qualifying show will air on VERSUS at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 9.
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Postby mlittle » Sun Oct 11, 2009 12:36 am

HER ENERGY DRIVER LLOYD EARNED HIS BEST SERIES START TO DATE OF FIFTH FOR THE FIRESTONE INDY 300; McDONALD'S DRIVER RAHAL TO START SIXTH

Graham Rahal, No. 02 McDonald's Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "We struggled with a lot of under steer since the start and it was really hard for me to get the car down at the exit of Turn 4. The last two laps, I crept up a little too high and it cost us a lot of speed. We made a lot of improvements today thought because when we showed up the McDonald's car was a real handful. This has been a challenging place for me for sure. We're pretty happy to be where we are. Obviously Alex had a good run too so, for the team, it's good. We'll keep working on this obviously and hopefully we'll get the McDonald's boys up front in the race."

Alex Lloyd, No. 40202 HER Energy Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "Everybody at HER Energy and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is very excited about our starting position. I was fortunate enough to win here. Racing here in an Indy car is different than in an Indy Lights car but at the same time its nice to have some experience at the track and have that feeling. It's great to be back competing in the IndyCar Series. We had a good car in qualifying and a good car in traffic. We want to go out there and be able to mix it up. There are some things I need to learn but at the same time I think we can run at the front. Having only done the race at Indianapolis, it feels like a very quick weekend."
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