Jourdain Jr. Pleased With Return to Open Wheel Racing For First Time Since 2004; Completed Refresher Program in Preparation for Indy 500

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Indi­anapolis 500 – Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway
IZOD IndyCar Series
ROOKIE ORIENTATION PROGRAM / REFRESHER — NOTES/QUOTES – Thursday, May 10, 2012

JOURDAIN JR PLEASED WITH HIS RETURN TO OPEN WHEEL RACING FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2004; COMPLETED REFRESHER PROGRAM IN PREPARATION FOR THE 2012 INDY 500

MICHEL JOURDAIN JR, No. 30 Office Depot / RLL Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was fantastic! I was thinking in the car when I was doing the laps ‘This is so much fun.’ I’m not going to say that it feels like yesterday that I was here but it doesn’t feel like 16 years ago.  The car feels really stable. The team did a test here about a month ago with Takuma and the car feels really stable; perfect to do the refresher phases today.  I thought I was going to be much more nervous but it felt really good.  I was quite comfort­able and relaxed – at home. I treated it with a lot of respect and built up to the speed.  In the begin­ning I tried to not feel any pres­sure to do a certain lap time.  I just tried to be smart and patient. The only goal was to get through these phases today.  Tonight I have a lot to sleep on. The last couple of years I haven’t been sleeping that good but I slept through the night last night and woke up to the alarm which was really good.  These things make me quite happy. I feel relaxed; I don’t know how I look but I feel really good.  I felt at home in the car and I’m very, very happy.”

FAST FACTS: Jour­dain completed all three phases of the refresher course with a best lap time of 213.633 mph over the 73 laps he completed… He will attempt to qualify for his second Indi­anapolis 500 race this year. He qual­i­fied eighth and finished 13th in the 1996 race… Today he turned the first laps behind the wheel of an Indy car since 2004 and his first laps in an Indy car on an OVAL since two Champ Car World Series oval races in 2004 at the Milwaukee Mile and Las Vegas Motor Speedway… Jour­dain made 152 starts in the CART/Champ Car World Series and three in the IRL/IndyCar Series (1996/97 season) between 1996 – 2004… His highest finish in the IRL/IndyCar Series is second place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1996 and he earned two wins in CART/CCWS in 2003 at Montreal and Milwaukee while driving for Team Rahal… With support from Ford Motor Company, he moved to NASCAR’s Nation­wide Series from 2005 – 2008 and also competed in the Camping World Truck Series in 2006. Since then, he competed in various rally and sports car series. 

BOBBY RAHAL, Team Co-Owner:  “Michel did what he needed to do. Obvi­ously we have a long way to go yet but it’s a good start. He’s comfort­able in the car and today was all about making that happen frankly. We got through all of the phases. We don’t have the car set up to go fast other than to get through these phases so I think there is a lot more to come obvi­ously. Now we start to work on the car and now he can go away and think about it and be ready to go on Saturday.  It was defi­nitely a good start.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT INDY The team’s highest start and finish in the event came in 2004 when Buddy Rice won from pole. In addi­tion, the team has earned a total of four podiums (2nd – Meira 2005; 3rd – Rahal 1994, 1995). The team was in contention to win the race as recent as 2011 when Bertrand Baguette led laps 139 – 140 and laps 189 – 197 of the 200 lap race. Had a caution come our before Baguette was forced to pit for a splash of fuel, he might have been the victor. The race ulti­mately ended under caution when JR Hilde­brand crashed on the front straight while in the lead on the final lap… The 2012 race will mark the 15th year for the team in the event.  Prior to 2012, the team prepared a total of 26 entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992 – 1995), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Jimmy Vasser (2002 – 2003), Kenny Brack (2003, 2005), Buddy Rice (2004, 2006; DNC 2005 due to prac­tice crash), Vitor Meira (2004, 2005), Roger Yasakawa (2004), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2006, 2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Oriol Servia (2009), Graham Rahal (2010), Bertrand Baguette (2011) and Jay Howard (2011).  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato and No. 30 Office Depot / RLL Racing entry for Michel Jour­dain will bring that total to 28 in 2012.

NEXT UP:  Opening Day for prac­tice for the 96th Indi­anapolis 500 race is Saturday, May 12.  Pole day will be Saturday, May 19 and will be tele­vised on NBC Sports Network from 11:00 – 2:30 and 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. ET.  The second day of qual­i­fying on May 20 will also be aired live on NBC Sports Network from 12:00 – 6:30 p.m. ET.  The 96th Indi­anapolis 500 race will be May 27 and will be tele­vised by ABC at 11a.m. (ET) and broad­cast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). Timing and Scoring infor­ma­tion is avail­able for all sessions from www.indycar.com.