Rahal and Jakes Aim For Strong Finish in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series Season Finale MAV TV 500 at Auto Club Speedway

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

MAV TV 500 – Auto Club Speedway

Pre-Race Notes

Season Finale of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series

 

DATE:     October 18–19, 2013

 

SPECIAL PROGRAMMING:     NBC Sports Network will air an “IndyCar Championship Preview” on Thursday, October 17 at 8 p.m. ET and will unveil the 2014 series schedule

The INDYCAR Championship Celebration will be streamed live on www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 app at 8:30 p.m. (ET) Oct. 20 from Universal Studios Hollywood

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     Friday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network; LIVE on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring with audio commentary)

RACE BROADCAST:     Live on Saturday, October 19 at 8:00 p.m.  ET on NBC Sports Network

RADIO BROADCAST:     The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM & Sirius channels 211

 

TRACK LAYOUT:     2-mile, D-shaped oval

RACE LENGTH:       250 laps / 500 miles

 

2012 WINNER:     Ed Carpenter

2012 POLESITTER:     Marco Andretti (1:06.6455 two-lap cumulative time; 216.069 mph)

 

RAHAL’S BEST OVAL START/FINISH:     Pole (Kansas 2009) / 2nd (Texas 2012 and Milwaukee 2011)

RAHAL’S BEST FONTANA START/FINISH:     Qualified 11th (started 18th) / 6th — both in ‘12 with SCCGR; will be his second race here

 

JAKES’ BEST OVAL START/FINISH:     10th (Texas 2013) / 10th (Texas 2012)

JAKES’ BEST FONTANA START/FINISH:     Qualified 24th (started 12th) / 12th – both in ‘12 with DCR; will be his second race here

 

RLL’S TOP START/FINISH AT AC SPEEDWAY:     2nd – Max Papis 1999 & Kenny Brack 2003 / 1st – Jimmy Vasser 2002

 

NEWS & NOTES:

1 WIN, 4 PODIUMS & 406 LAPS LED FOR RLL RACING AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY:

The MAVTV 500 will mark the 12th IndyCar race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here.  The team was entered in seven CART/Champ Car races from 1997-2003 but the 2003 event was cancelled due to wildfires. In total, the team competed in six CART/Champ Car races (all scheduled as 500-mile races; five run as such) and five Indy Racing League/IndyCar Series events (2002-2005, 2012).  The team won ONE RACE (Jimmy Vasser 2002), made TWO front row starts (2nd: Max Papis 1999, Kenny Brack 2003), earned FOUR podiums (2nd – Papis 1999 & 2001; 3rd – Vitor Meira 2005), and led 406 laps (chart available).  The team entered cars for Bobby Rahal (1997-1998), Bryan Herta (1997-1999), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-2001, 2003), Jimmy Vasser (2002 – both CCWS & IRL), Michel Jourdain (2002-2003), Buddy Rice (2004-2005), Vitor Meira (2004-2005), Danica Patrick (2005) and Takuma Sato (2012).  The No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts entry for James Jakes will bring the total to 22 Indy car entries in this race.

 

RLL WAS A CONTENDER FOR THE WIN IN 2012

Last year, Sato climbed through the field from his 21st place start and into the lead for Laps 38-39, 150-152 and  228 and ran in the top five the majority of the race but lost control of his race car on the final lap on the exit of Turn 2 while fourth and finished seventh.   

 

GRAHAM ON AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY AND WORKING WITH ENGINEER FIFE ON AN OVAL

The MAV TV 500 will be Graham’s second Indy car race here. He qualified 11th in 2012 with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR), started 18th after a penalty for an unapproved engine change and finished sixth. He is hoping for another top finish at the track.

“It was a solid run,” said Rahal of his race last year.  “We were patient and it came to us in the end. This is exactly what we need to do this time as well. Five hundred miles is a long time around Auto Club Speedway so we need to be smart and make sure we’re there fighting at the end.  The track is challenging because of the bumps and the lanes. The lane differences and the seams make a driver’s life difficult. The car wants to spin every time you hit a seam so you have to drive the car very differently on different lines at times to make it work.  I am looking forward to working with (race engineer) Neil (Fife) on an oval, something we haven’t done yet. I hope we’re more competitive.  We have certainly struggled this year and some of these circuits have historically been my best. We just need to keep on pushing forward.”

 

JAKES AT AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY – LED 10 LAPS IN 2012

The MAV TV 500 will be James’ second event here. Last year he qualified 24th, started 12th after grid penalties were assessed, led 10 laps and finished 12th with Dale Coyne Racing.  After competitive runs on oval tracks this season, he is looking forward to the chance to finish the season strong.

“It’s a very fun place to race,” said Jakes about Auto Club Speedway. “The track is very wide so it can produce many lanes to race in which always makes it interesting for the fans. Out of all the ovals we go to, this is definitely the widest and Turn 1 can be very bumpy.  I had a pretty good run going last year until we got a drive through (penalty) for a pit lane infringement. We led some laps and the car was working very well so it was a shame what happened to us.”

 

RAHAL AND JAKES ON TITLE PREDICTIONS

The IZOD IndyCar Series championship is a two-man race between Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves. Dixon took the points lead at the previous race in Houston and leads Castroneves by 25 heading into the finale. The series championship will be decided in the final race for the eighth year in a row.  Dixon can clinch his third title with a finish of fifth or better, no matter where sole remaining rival Helio Castroneves finishes

“I think Dixon will win,” predicted Rahal.  “He has always been tough to beat, and in my eyes is probably the most talented guy out there.”

“I think Dixon will do it,” added Jakes.  “He has been very strong in the second half of the season and as a team they look very competitive.”

 

RAHAL AND JAKES ON THE POTENTIAL COMPETITIVENESS AT FONTANA

Most teams participated in a test at Auto Club Speedway on Tuesday, September 24 including Rahal and Jakes but each had different experiences.

“We didn’t get to run at all, so that certainly puts us behind the eight ball,” said Rahal about the test. “We need to work hard, smart and efficiently to make sure we’re up front this weekend. I think the usual suspects all looked good. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”

“We actually carried most of our Texas setup over to the test because we had a great balance there and had a pretty good test,” said Jakes who ran fourth on the Texas Motor Speedway oval but strategy dictated a stop for fuel with 16 laps to go. “I would say Auto Club Speedway is a combination of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Texas so for sure you can take information out of each setup.  The test was very important, and that is why every team was there. It’s the last race of the season so everyone wants to end on a high. It’s difficult to say who was strong. People can put a blistering lap time together and it looks impressive but the race is 500 miles. I would imagine the guys that end up at the front during the race will be the ones that just worked on race cars and didn’t worry too much about qualifying.”

 

JAKES’ OVERVIEW OF 2013 AND A PREVIEW OF 2014

“I think generally we have shown great pace this season. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to always capitalize on the results. I think working together with Eddie Jones for a second season would be very good and we would be able to really finish high up in the championship after what we have learned this season.”

“I think all the usual suspects were quick,” added Jakes of the competition in 2013. “Penske and Ganassi are going for the title obviously and in the middle part of the season the Andretti drivers were there to. I wouldn’t say anyone has surprised me but with the field being so competitive at the moment anyone can win a race.”

 

GRAHAM ON HIS SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

“The highlight has been Iowa and Long Beach without a doubt,” said Rahal of his heat race win and ultimate fifth place finish in Iowa and second place in Long Beach. “However luck hasn’t been on our side. I think Baltimore was our best chance to win but unfortunately it didn’t work out for us.”

 

GRAHAM WILL WEAR A SPECIAL HELMET FOR THE MAV TV 500

The design of Vincent Venegas, a graphic artist from Racine, Wis., was selected from five finalists of the Graham Rahal Foundation (GRF) helmet design contest to be painted on the helmet Graham will wear in the MAVTV 500.  Following the race, the GRF will auction the helmet at http://Celebrity.eBay.com to raise funds for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer and SeriousFun Children’s Network.

 

RAHAL AND JAKES ON HONDA’S 2013 EFFORT

Honda and Chevrolet are tied in the manufacturer standings with 135 points. Both took their ninth win by splitting the doubleheader in Houston. Rahal and Jakes are complimentary of Honda’s effort in 2013.

“Honda has been impressive,” said Rahal.  “I am proud to be associated with a great company like Honda and HPD. I hope this is a partnership that can carry on for many years to come.”

“Honda has done a great job this season especially after bouncing back after the 500,” added Jakes. “There work ethic was second to none. Hopefully we can continue our relationship into the 2014 season and I’m really looking forward to trying the twin turbo.”

– RLL –