Rahal and Jakes Looking Forward to Returning to Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama – Barber Motor­sports Park, Leeds, Alabama
Pre-Race Notes
Round 2 of 16 in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series

 
DATE:                                            Friday – Sunday, April 5 – 7, 2013
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:       Tape-delayed on NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. ET Saturday, April 6; live on the IMS Radio
                                                       Network and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring)
RACE BROADCAST:                    Live on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m. ET
RADIO BROADCAST:                  The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM 211 & Sirius 211
TRACK LAYOUT:                          2.38-mile, 17-turn road course
RACE LENGTH:                            90 laps / 214.2 miles 
2012 WINNER:                              Will Power
2012 POLESITTER:                      Helio Castron­eves (1:10.4768; 117.485 mph)
RLLR TOP START/
FINISH AT BARBER:                   16th / 24th after mechan­ical failure – both by Sato in 2012 (1 race here for RLL)
G. RAHAL’S BEST START/
FINISH AT BARBER:                   8th / 4th  - both in 2012; will be his fourth race here
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES
START/FINISH:                             Pole at St. Pete 2009 & Kansas 2009 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008
JAKESBEST START/
FINISH AT BARBER:                    20th / 16th – both in 2012; will be his third race here
JAKESHIGHEST SERIES
START/FINISH:                             8th at Motegi (road) in 2011 / 8th at Toronto (street) in 2012
 
 
 
NEWS & NOTES:
 
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING MAKES SECOND START AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK
The 2013 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will mark the second IndyCar Series race for the team at Barber Motor­sports Park (BMP).  Last year the team prepared an entry for Takuma Sato here. He set the third fastest lap time in Friday’s first prac­tice at BMP and was fastest in the wet second session but traffic limited his qual­i­fying perfor­mance on Saturday to 16th.  In the race he passed Newgarden, Barrichello, Hunter-Reay and Andretti for 12th place on red alter­nate tires but strug­gled on primary tires and ulti­mately retired in 24th place due to mechan­ical failure after 52/90 laps.  For 2013, RLLR has entered the No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires car for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Acorn Stair­lifts car for James Jakes to bring the team’s total to three entries for this event (2012 – 2013) and will attempt to break the strong­hold Team Penske has on this event.  In the three IndyCar events held here since 2010, Team Penske drivers have won pole and the race each year.
 
PRE-SEASON OPEN TEST AT BMP
The series held an Open Test at Barber Motor­sports Park March 12 – 13 and 27 of the 28 car/driver combi­na­tions recorded laps faster than the track record and the top 16 cars were sepa­rated by a second.  Graham Rahal was sched­uled to run both days of the test but a fuel supply issue on the second day limited his lap total to 16 that day and a total of 70 for the two days.  Mike Conway tested the No. 16 car on Tuesday and James Jakes took over on Wednesday. Jakes set the ninth fastest time in the final prac­tice session and was ranked 11th overall.  That data, plus infor­ma­tion gained during the St. Peters­burg season-opener has both Rahal and Jakes opti­mistic for a compet­i­tive run at BMP.

DESPITE LIMITED LAPS AT THE OPEN TEST, GRAHAM IS POSITIVE OFCOMPETITIVE RETURN
The 2013 race at BMP will mark Graham’s fourth here. He qual­i­fied eighth last year, led one lap and finished fourth with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). The previous season he qual­i­fied 10th and finished 18th in 2011 with SCCGR. In 2010 he qual­i­fied 15th and finished 17th for Sarah Fisher Racing. Despite limited test miles at BMP in March, he is optomistic about the weekend after posi­tive gains in St. Pete.
                “James (Jakes) and Mike (Conway) had really good tests at Barber so while we certainly didn’t have the speed nor the amount of laps that we wanted, I think we found some things at St. Peters­burg and came together as a team setup-wise there that will really help us at Barber. They are two totally different types of tracks but I really, firmly believe this is some­thing that is going to help us down the road; I feel really posi­tive about that.  With (race engi­neer) Gerry and (Jakes’ race engi­neer) Eddie combined, I think that James and I will both have really good week­ends. I feel really good after our perfor­mance in St. Pete in the race. Even without a high pres­sure fuel pump and having elec­trical issues, for us to main­tain the leaders pace, it felt pretty good so I have pretty high hopes for the Midas / Big O Tires team for the rest of this year.”
 
JAMES IS LOOKING FORWARD TO RETURNING TO BMP AFTERGOOD TEST HERE IN MARCH
Jakes will make his third start at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. While with Dale Coyne Racing, he qual­i­fied 20th and finished 16th in 2012 and qual­i­fied and retired in 25th place in 2011 due to mechan­ical failure. His pace at the test in March bodes well for a compet­i­tive weekend at BMP
“It was a good test. Not having driven for a while, it was nice just to get back in the car and take things step-by-step. Gener­ally we have a good car at Barber and I am excited to get back there this weekend to see where we stand. I think we did a great job of devel­oping the car over the two days and I was just getting used to the team. I am really excited to get back out there.”
 
GRAHAM RECALLS HIS COMPETITIVE RUN HERE LAST YEAR
“It was a great weekend; really smooth,” said Rahal of his expe­ri­ence here last year that netted a fourth place finish. “The car felt great in qual­i­fying. I thought we really had a chance to make it into the top-six (in qual­i­fying) but unfor­tu­nately Ryan Hunter-Reay crashed early on in qual­i­fying and there­fore we didn’t get any laps in but we started reason­ably close to the front end of the grid, we passed some guys and made our way up to the front and damn near had a podium. Helio (Castron­eves) and I were fighting in the end and he was blocking me like crazy, which is now legal, so at the end of the day we didn’t quite get the podium result we wanted but I felt really good about the car and now I know what it takes there to have some success so that’s what we are going to be looking to do this year.”
 
GRAHAM ON WHY THE HONDA INDY GP OF ALABAMA IS ONE OF HIS FAVORITE EVENTS
“Barber Motor­sports Park is one of my favorites of the year because it’s a beau­tiful place to go race. The track is great, the people are really friendly and the food is always good.  It’s a beau­tiful part of this country and with the track being hidden up in the hill­side, its pretty cool. I have always enjoyed that and after having some success last year, I look forward to getting back there.”
 
RAHAL AND JAKES ON THEIR FAVORITE — AND HARDEST — PARTS OF BMP
“My favorite part is the back section of the track and it is extremely tricky,” said Rahal. “There are a lot of really high-speed, high (G-force) load, very phys­ical corners and that is diffi­cult. It’s very easy to make a mistake. I would say that not only is it my favorite, but it’s prob­ably the hardest part of the track.”
                “My favorite part of the course is the first corner after the Start/Finish; the quick left hander and the long right down the hill,” added Jakes. “That start of the lap is really key — espe­cially coming out of Turn 2 — to getting a good exit down to the hairpin, espe­cially in the race when you have a chance to over­take. I think the hardest part of the track is prob­ably the quick chicane in the back and over the crest. It’s another area that you have to make sure you pull it together to get the maximum out of the lap time.”
 
GRAHAM’S REPORT CARD FOR THE PERFORMANCE AT ST. PETERSBURG
“We are working on unloading a better car when we show up at the track. And what we found in St. Pete is really going to help us do that for the reminder of the road and street courses this year.  The guys did a phenom­enal job at St. Pete, making a lot of really big changes. There was a lot thrown at them to try to improve the car in a short period of time and I think that now, with where we are going to begin, I feel we will be much more compet­i­tive from the start. I was really pleased with the way the entire team is oper­ating. I have never felt a team as close as this one is in terms of person­al­i­ties within and the way everyone is gelling together. For some­thing that has come together in the past few months, and with staff that was added recently too, it’s impres­sive and I am very proud of everyone. They are doing a great job.”
 
JAKES ON AREAS HE IS FOCUSED ON FOR IMPROVEMENT
“Improve­ment wise, we just need to make sure everyone is working together as well as possible and every­thing is working in the pit stops and our stops are great. Obvi­ously it’s a new bunch of guys working together and it is going to take a little bit of time to gel.  Everyone is very encour­aged and hopeful of doing a great job this year so it should be great for the Acorn Stair­lifts team.”
 
JAKES ON THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION IN ST. PETE AND THE SEASON AHEAD
“I think the close­ness of the field and the fact that Fire­stone slightly adjusting the tire compounds will make the racing even more exciting this year. No one knows what they have to work with at the moment and it will take a few races to deter­mine that — espe­cially switching back and forth from street and road course. Once we get a bit further into the season, people will have a better idea but as of now there is a little bit of uncer­tainty espe­cially towards the tire compound and that should keep things inter­esting.” 
 
JAKES AND RAHAL ON ANY SURPRISES AT ST. PETE
“Tristan (Vautier) was prob­ably the only one who surprised me,” said Jakes. “He was kind of the lead Honda at the time and I don’t think anyone expected that. As for who could have a breakout year, outside of us, I would say Tristan.”
“(James) Hinch­cliffe getting his first win was not a surprise to me,” added Rahal. “I think Andretti and Penske have the best cars right now and they seem to be there again this year. James was bound to win even­tu­ally. I think it will be the same guys fighting for it this year. I think (Ryan) Hunter-Reay is going to have a great year, he didn’t have the start to the year he was looking for but neither did Dario (Fran­chitti), (Scott) Dixon or (Will) Power and I think we are right there. To be honest, we passed Dario and were quicker than Dixie (Dixon) and in many parts of the race we were as quick as the leader and we didn’t have full horse­power so I feel pretty good about where we stand as a team and I think we have a lot of poten­tial going forward.”
 

RLL