Monthly Archives: May 2011

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Cars Build Momentum For Indy Qualifying

INDIANAPOLIS (May 19, 2011) – After two days of rain and cold at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan squad was finally able to get back to the business of finding speed as preparations continue for this weekend’s qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

Both Bertrand Baguette (#30 RACB/Aspria Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jay Howard (#88 Service Central Dallara/Honda/Firestone) made strong progress today during a six-hour practice session. Each car set monthly highs for laps turned around the 2.5-mile IMS oval, with both Baguette and Howard turning their fastest laps of May as well.

Howard, who is looking to earn a berth in his first Indy 500, carded a best lap of 225.594 mph (40.39.8946 seconds). He turned 49laps throughout the day, even going out again with less than 15 minutes to run in the session to try a new configuration that the day’s data had suggested.

“What we were able to do in our last outing (when Howard posted his best laps of the month) shows just how hard this team works, and how good their development process is.” Howard said. “The Service Central crew has worked very hard to find some more speed in the car and the engineers keep coming up with more options for us. So we just take the car out with those changes they suggest and keep going faster. I am very encouraged by what we did today.”

Baguette snapped off a best lap of 224.617 mph (40.0682 seconds) for his best May clocking, turning his top trip on the 77th of his 82 laps. His session today saw him log 205 miles and yielded a lot of good information that the Ohio-based team will use this weekend when the 33-car field will be set for the May 29 500-mile event.

“Finally we got to do some laps and again I think we had a good day,” Baguette said. “We had a full day of running and that allowed us to try a number of different things. Most of them were good, but there were some that didn’t work. It’s all part of the process that you have to go through here and I have been really impressed with the way this team goes through their processes. If we keep working like this, we’re going to have good speed at qualifying.”

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars now have just one day of practice available remaining ahead of Saturday’s first qualifying day. The field will be finalized on Bump Day, May 22nd, with the race taking place May 29.

Today’s 100th anniversary Indy 500 fun fact

In 1993, three former F1 World Champions finished in the top five of the race. Emerson Fittipaldi (1972, 74) won the race, Nigel Mansell (1992) finished third and Mario Andretti (1978) finished fifth. This is the only Indy 500 where three World Champions finished in the top five

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Finds More Speed As Indy Qualifying Looms

INDIANAPOLIS (May 16, 2011) – The month of May at Indianapolis can throw a number of scenarios at a race team, so it pays dividends for a team to be prepared for every eventuality.

After a weekend of 80-degree temperatures, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team was greeted Monday by windy and cool conditions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, forcing the team to alter their practice plans a bit for drivers Bertrand Baguette (#30 RACB/Aspria Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jay Howard (#88 Service Central Dallara/Honda/Firestone). The Sam Schmidt/RLL team, choosing to ensure that its tire allotment would be there when it counted, chose to keep the #88 car in the garage Monday while the #30 machine went out on a fact-finding mission in the breezy conditions.

Baguette’s outing yielded a treasure trove of good information about the 2.5-mile IMS oval as he logged a best time of 223.429 mph (40.2813 seconds) in just his second day of practice. The time was fourth-best on the charts at the moment he hung it on the board, and it ended up being 17th fastest of the 39 cars that turned laps.

“We could have weather like this in qualifying or on race day, so you have to be able to run in it,” said Baguette. “The car was moving around out there with the wind but it wasn’t that tough. I like what we are doing with the car and with our plan, and I think we are getting there.”

Baguette made 21 trips around the IMS oval today, and posted his fastest time on his 21st and final lap.

“It was a good day for us, we made a good bit of progress on one car, while making sure that we aren’t wasting our tire allotment, so we will have them when we need them,” said 1986 Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal. “Bertrand got another day in the car and another day to work with the engineers, and that is important. So far, it has been a good start to the week.”

Baguette, who is looking to make his second Indianapolis 500 start after making his maiden appearance last year with Conquest Racing, was encouraged by the day’s performance as well.

“I think it was another good day for us,” Baguette reported. “We keep improving the car with every change, so we are headed the right way.”

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars now have five days of practice available leading into Saturday’s first qualifying day. The field will be finalized on Bump Day, May 22nd, with the race taking place May 29.

Today’s 100th anniversary Indy 500 fun fact

In 1957, race winner Sam Hanks rolled into Victory Lane and promptly retired from racing. Hanks never ran another Indy Car race, although he did making a qualifying attempt at Indy in 1957. Hanks is the last driver to win Indy in the final race of his career.


Rahal Letterman Lanigan Opens Indy 500 Practice

INDIANAPOLIS (May 14, 2011) – The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu taught us that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

But the journey of 500 miles started with a handful of laps around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Rahal Letterman Lanigan drivers Bertrand Baguette (#30 RACB/Aspria Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jay Howard (#88 Service Central Dallara/Honda/Firestone) Saturday, with both drivers making the most of their first Indy Car outings of the 2011 season.

The team adhered to a fairly conservative program on their first sessions of the month, getting both Howard and Baguette comfortable in the car today, while providing a good baseline to build on over the next six days.

Baguette made 24 circuits of the venerable speedway with a best speed of 220.599 mph (40.7961 seconds) while Howard logged in a best effort of 219.896 mph (40.9280 seconds) in his 23-lap day. Baguette’s time was 22nd on the opening charts, while Howard’s was 29th. Both drivers were pleased with the results of the first day, and are looking forward to making more gains as the week progresses.

“The car feels really good. We got to run our refresher laps and got the work done that we needed to get done in that session,” Howard said. “The Service Central team has done a great job in getting the cars ready and I feel that there is a lot of speed left in the car. We will be working very hard over the next week to find that speed and get ourselves strongly into the field.”

The threat of rain hanging over Central Indiana tomorrow made it prudent for the RLL squads to run two sessions on the day, once before and once after a nearly two-hour rain delay. Both cars joined a handful of others that made laps after the rain stoppage, with Baguette shaving more than a tenth of a second off of his time from the early afternoon run. Both cars were planning for another run at 5:15 p.m. when a second set of rains came and ended the day’s practice.

“It was a good first day, I feel comfortable in the car, we didn’t have a tow and still did a pretty decent time so I feel good,” Baguette said. “It was important for me today to feel good in the car and with the team since I hadn’t been in a car since October of last year, but I think we did everything we needed to do and can start really working on making the car faster tomorrow.”

Today’s 100th anniversary Indy 500 fun fact

In 1928, rookie driver Jimmy Gleason led 43 laps and was then relieved by fellow rookie Russ Snowberger, who led 13 laps. This is the  only time that two rookies ever led the Indianapolis 500 in the same car.


Rahal Letterman Lanigan Launches Two-Car Attack on Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS (May 12, 2011) – After a strong run in last year’s Indianapolis 500 that saw the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team qualify seventh and run on the lead lap all day, the Ohio-based team has expanded to a two-car effort for the 2011 edition of the Memorial Day classic – and has not lessened its expectations a bit.

Second-year driver Bertrand Baguette (#30 RACB/Aspria Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and rookie Jay Howard (#88 Service Central Dallara/Honda/Firestone) will carry the team’s colors into battle beginning Saturday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as on-track preparations begin for the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500. Coming off a strong run last year, the team that won the 2004 race with Buddy Rice has high hopes this time around.

“We are looking forward to going to Indianapolis,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “We have been consistently fast in recent years when we have gone there and I think that it shows that we have a good team and good people. Most of our guys were there when we won in 2004 and are some of the best in the business. The guys we have steering the cars have shown their abilities, so I think we have a realistic shot to be a factor in the race.”

Baguette ran well last year in his first trip to the 500, but fell victim to a loose mirror, which cost his team a number of laps to fix, and dropped him back to 22nd in the order. The young Belgian returns this year with a new team, but more importantly – a new bank of experience to draw from.

“Last year everything was all new to me, it was even my first time in America, and I literally had to learn everything about the car, the track and the race,” Baguette said. “I realize that I haven’t been in the car since Miami last year, but this is the first oval race this year for everyone. It’s a big challenge but we’ll take our time, progressively get back up to speed and get ready for the race. I am really proud to be working with Rahal Letterman Lanigan. I have visited them a few times and I am very impressed with their facilities and the commitment of the team. They obviously know how to win the race, so I expect to have a great experience with them.”

Howard is looking to make his first Indy 500 start, having narrowly missed punching his ticket a year ago. His time last year was good enough to make the race, but uncertainty at the end of Bump Day led him to having his time pulled by his team and left him on the outside looking in. A veteran of nine Indy Car starts and winner of the 2006 Firestone Indy Lights championship, Howard is more than ready for his shot at the show this year.

“Being with a team like Rahal Letterman Lanigan and running in their program is a dream come true for me,“ said Howard, whose Service Central-sponsored entry comes through a partnership with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and RLL. “I feel like I have paid my dues and been in some cars that have not been competitive, but having seen this team and knowing what it can do, I’m really confident in our chances to do well.”

Howard and Baguette will make their first laps of the month around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on Saturday afternoon. The RLL team will have seven days of practice available leading into Saturday’s first qualifying day. The field will be finalized on Bump Day, May 22nd, with the race taking place May 29.

 Contact: Eric Mauk – RLL Director of Communications 614-264-1254