Conway, Jakes & Rahal Second, Sixth and 14th Fastest in Practice at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
IZOD IndyCar Series
PRACTICE NOTES/QUOTES – Friday, April 19, 2013
FASTEST:        Ryan Hunter-Reay       1:09.4224 / 102.054 mph            (set in Practice 2)
2nd:                  Mike Conway               1:09.4603 / 101.998 mph            (set in Practice 2)
6th:                   James Jakes                1:09.7664 / 101.550 mph            (set in Practice 2)
14th:                 Graham Rahal              1:10.1906 / 100.937 mph            (set in Practice 1; 8th in that session)
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I think the Midas / Big O Tires car is competitive. Clearly with Mike (Conway) and James (Jakes), the team has done a great job here. We are starting off awfully quick. I simply just didn’t get a lap in the second session but I feel confident that with the things we are trying, we are going to find some good speed and tomorrow we will be right there.  If we can make a couple of minor improvements, I think it will be a good day for our team tomorrow.”
FAST FACTS: Will be his seventh Champ/Indy car race here, eighth overall, and first for his father’s team.  His best start/finish here came in 2007 when he started fifth but the pit strategy of others and slow fuel flow related to teething problems for the all-new Panoz Champ Car on two stops limited his finish to eighth place.  In the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Series race here he started seventh and finished fifth. He was in podium contention several times but various challenges took him out of that possibility… This is Rahal’s first full season at RLL, sixth in the IZOD IndyCar Series and seventh in a top open wheel racing series (CCWS 2007)… The Ohio native recorded 92 starts between the Champ Car World Series and IZOD IndyCar Series (2007-2012) capturing one win, two poles, 19 top-five and 44-top 10 finishes. He led a total of 28 laps in 2012 – 27 at Texas Motor Speedway where he nearly claimed his second series victory but brushed the wall and finished second — had an average start of 12.4 and average finish of 11.2, earned three podium finishes and completed 87.2 percent of the laps run (1,841 of 2,111).

JAMES JAKES, No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “In the first session, we just struggled a little bit with the balance and then we made some small adjustments for the second session and they seemed to help for sure. It was pretty difficult because we didn’t get to try anything that we planned to try because the session was so disrupted with red flags but I think we have a good baseline. The Acorn Stairlifts car seems to be pretty good straight out of the box so we will just try to make improvements over night and go from there. Hopefully we are in a strong position from qualifying.  I’m excited to get out there tomorrow.”
FAST FACTS: Will be his third race here and first with RLL after having driven for Dale Coyne Racing in the previous two. He qualified 22nd in 2012 but started 14th after grid penalties to Chevy-powered teams but made a mistake while running up front and finished 11th.  In 2011, he qualified 23rd and finished 15th… Jakes is competing in his third season in the IndyCar Series and first with RLL. In 31 Indy car starts with Dale Coyne Racing from 2011-2012, his best finish was eighth at Toronto and series-best start of eighth was at Motegi.
MIKE CONWAY, No. 17 blu eCigs Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “The blu eCigs car was great. From the outset we had a good balance in the car. In the end, we ended up top-two in both sessions so that was nice and encouraging for the rest of the weekend.  It was a good start; a good job from all of the guys. I am looking forward to tomorrow. I got just one clear lap and I was lucky to get that. Some people didn’t even get that so it is kind of hard to know where we line up really in terms of pace but it felt good. We have a few areas to work on to be quicker tomorrow. If we can improve some areas, we will be good. ”
FAST FACTS: Will be his fifth race in Long Beach and first IndyCar Series race of 2013.  In 2012, he qualified 14th, started seventh after series penalties to Chevy-powered teams and retired in 22nd due to mechanical issues while driving for AJ Foyt Racing.  In 2011, he qualified third, led 14 laps and earned his first series victory with Andretti Autosport.  In 2010, he qualified 16th and finished 10th with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. In 2009, he qualified 16th and retired in 21st after contact… RLL expanded to three entries for Long Beach with primary sponsorship from blu eCigs for the event. Blu eCigs is also an associate sponsor for the team for the full season.
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT LONG BEACH… 2013 marks the 22nd consecutive season of competition for the team and 14th Indy car race in Long Beach… It is the second time for RLL to compete in the Indy car race at Long Beach since 2003 when Michel Jourdain, Jr. won pole, led a race high 48 laps and was in the lead when his car stuck in gear on his final stop with seven laps to go and ultimately retired in 15th place.  In total, the team won three poles (Bryan Herta 1998, Jimmy Vasser 2002, Michel Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Kenny Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place three times (Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002) and earned five podiums (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999). The team was in contention for a podium finish last year with Takuma Sato who led two times for a total of 16 laps and was third on the final lap but was the victim of “avoidable contact” by Hunter-Reay in Turn 8 and was ultimately scored with an eight place finish due to a multi-car pileup that blocked the track leading to the front straight.
NEXT UP:  Practice will take place tomorrow morning from 10:40 – 11:25 a.m. PDT. Qualifying will take place from 2:00-3:10 PM on Saturday and will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 6 p.m. ET.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from  The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 4:00 PM ET Sunday, April 21.
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