Midas/Big O Tires Driver Rahal Qualified 15th for the Honda GP of St. Pete; Acorn Stairlifts Driver Jakes Qualified 18th

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, March 23, 2013
POLE:  Will Power                     1:01.2070 / 105.870 mph            (Set in Round 3)
15th:     Graham Rahal               1:02:2709 / 104.061 mph            (Set in Round 1, Group 1)         
18th:     James Jakes                 1:02.1658 / 104.237 mph            (Set in Round 1, Group 2)
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I’m frustrated and upset that we didn’t make it through to Round Two or Three. We thought the Midas / Big O Tires car was pretty good this morning and could have been in the top-five. It’s just a game of a few hundredths (of a second) and you are in and unfortunately we didn’t make it into the top-six to progress. We will just have to look at strategy options for tomorrow, pass some guys and move forward.  Based on our starting position, rain would be good to mix this race up. Some of the guys aren’t quite as good in the rain so it would be interesting to see where we would end up if that happened.”
FAST FACTS: Will make his sixth start at this track.  His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments… While with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing he qualified ninth in 2008, led 19 laps and became the youngest driver to win at the age of 19 years, 93 days old in his series debut after only 10 laps of testing at speed before the event (more details available). His pole-winning run in 2009 here also made him the youngest driver to accomplish the feat in series history. He was hit from behind on the opening lap and finished seventh. In 2010, he qualified 16th and finished 9th for Sarah Fisher Racing. While with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR) he qualified 12th and finished 17th in 2011 and qualified 11th and finished 12th in 2012… This will be 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 has recorded 91 starts between the Champ Car World Series and IZOD IndyCar Series 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 victory — 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:  “Qualifying was very frustrating but it’s going to be a long race tomorrow. Obviously it was difficult just jumping on the Firestone red tires, never having used them before which caught a lot of people out.  I don’t think we are far away.  We just need to dial the Acorn Stairlifts car in a bit more for the race. The weather looks a bit uncertain for tomorrow so we will have to see if we can make some changes and patient in the race tomorrow and get to the front.  I love racing in the rain so I would prefer it to be wet but obviously not too wet because of the standing water. We will have to wait to see what the weather does but I don’t mind if it’s wet tomorrow.”
FAST FACTS: Will be his third start at this track. He qualified 22nd and finished 15th in 2011 and qualified 20th and finished 26th in 2012 – both with Dale Coyne Racing… Jakes began racing in 2002 in the British T-Car series where he finished second. He graduated to the British Formula Renault Series in 2004-2005. In 2005 he finished second in the standings after seven podium finishes and two poles and was named a Rising Star by the prestigious British Racing Drivers Club and was a McLaren Autosport Award finalist. He progressed to the British Formula 3 Series and Formula 3 Euro Series (2007-2008) where he won the Pau Grand Prix from pole in 2008 and set the fastest race lap.  He earned two podiums in the GP2 Asia series (2008-2009) and a pole and two podiums in GP3 (2010) and finished eighth in series standings despite missing four races because of injury… Will compete 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.
JAY O’CONNELL, Technical Director for RLL: “We were making good progress with both cars from Practice 1, 2 and 3 and then the red tires in qualifying were definitely a curve ball since none of the teams got to test them before hand. We struggled with rear grip on the red tires which was unexpected based on our experience from last year but we will learn from that and take it into account for tomorrow and make sure the setups are good for both red and black tires and look forward to a better race. We used this rain tire in Detroit last year so we can lean on that experience if we need them tomorrow. This rain tire is better in lower water depths so it’s better for transition to dry situations. If its really deep water they will probably stop the race because of water collecting. So this rain tire should work well in the conditions they will let us run in.”
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT ST. PETE… 2013 will mark the 22nd consecutive season of competition for the team.  It will be the sixth IndyCar race for the team in St. Pete and the team has entered 11 cars in this race to date. The team prepared Indy cars for Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Buddy Rice (2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Jeff Simmons (2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008) and Takuma Sato (2012) prior to this year. The team led the race for four laps with Hunter-Reay in 2008 (G. Rahal won) and 11 in 2012 (Sato) and has earned three top-10 finishes with the best being fifth by Meira in 2005.  The highest starting position by the team is sixth place by Hunter-Reay in 2008.
NEXT UP…  Morning warm-up will take place tomorrow morning from 8:45-9:15 a.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will air the 110-lap Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg live beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 24.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.
PHOTO AND VIDEO AVAILABLE… Media members who register on the IndyCar Series media site have access to photography and video. Register for access at: http://www.indycarmedia.com/pages/ApplyforAccess