Rahal Returns to TMS After Near Victory in 2012; Jakes Aims to Continue the Momentum from a Career-Best Weekend

Fire­stone 550 – Texas Motor Speedway
Pre-Race Notes
Round 8 of 19 in the IZOD IndyCar Series

NEWS & NOTES:
 
DATE:                                               June 7 – 8, 2013
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:           June 7 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. ET on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring w/radio commen­tary)
RACE BROADCAST:                       Live on Saturday, June 8 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC
RADIO BROADCAST:                     The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 & Sirius channel 212
TRACK LAYOUT:                            1.5-mile oval
RACE LENGTH:                               228 laps / 342 miles or 550 km 
2012 WINNER:                                 Justin Wilson
2012 POLESITTER:                         Alex Tagliani (two-lap average speed of 215.691 mph)
 
RAHAL’S BEST
OVAL START/FINISH:                     Pole (Kansas 2009) / 2nd (Texas 2012 and Milwaukee 2011)
RAHAL’S BEST TMS
START/FINISH:                                3rd in 2012 / 2nd in 2012 – both at Texas Motor Speedway
 
JAKESBEST
OVAL START/FINISH:                    17th (Indy 2012) / 10th (Texas 2012)
JAKESBEST TEXAS
START/FINISH:                                21st / 10th – both in 2012 (career-best oval finish)
 
RLL’S TOP START/
FINISH AT TMS:                              1st by Scott Sharp 2007 / 2nd by Vitor Meira 2005
 
 
NEWS & NOTES:
 
POLE, 1 PODIUM, 2 FRONT ROW STARTS IN 10 EVENTS AT TMS FOR RLL RACING
The Fire­stone 550 will mark the 11th event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.  The team’s highest start of pole with Scott Sharp came in 2007 and highest finish of second came in 2005 with Vitor Meira.  The team earned another front row start in 2004 when Buddy Rice qual­i­fied second.  Overall the team has earned three top-five finishes and six top-10’s at the track.
 
Prior to the 2012 event, the team prepared a total of 17 entries for drivers such as Kenny Brack (2003 x2), Buddy Rice (2004 x2; 2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2004 x2; 2005), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Jay Howard (2011, Schmidt/RLL) 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 that total to 19 in 2013. Last year at TMS, Sato earned his best qual­i­fying posi­tion of the season to date of 10th but was assessed a 10-grid penalty for an unap­proved engine change and started 20th. He moved up to sixth but contact on Lap 63/228 resulted in a 22nd place finish.
 
GRAHAM AT TEXAS – LED UNTIL TWO LAPS TO GO IN 2012
The 2013 race will mark Graham Rahal’s fifth event here.  He qual­i­fied third in 2012, led 27 laps and looked close to earning his second series victory but a slight brush of the wall with two laps to go forced him to settle for second place with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR).  He qual­i­fied 20th for the first of two heat races in 2011 and finished ninth with SCCGR. He drew the fourth starting spot for Race 2 in 2011 and finished 30th.  He did not compete in Texas in 2010 during his partial season of compe­ti­tion.  He qual­i­fied 12th with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) in 2009 but retired in 22nd place after contact. In 2008, he qual­i­fied 18th and finished 11th with NHLR. He is ranked 14th in series stand­ings with 126 points after seven of 19 races.
 
GRAHAM ON HIS NEAR-MISS AT POLE AND THE WIN AT TMS IN 2012
“I felt great last year. We worked very hard on a good racecar, and would have had the pole if I didn’t hit the hard limiter. I had the fastest lap in qual­i­fying, but unfor­tu­nately it’s the average of two. I thought we ran very well in the race at the begin­ning and end. We faded mid race with some handling issues, but it quickly came back to us. I take last year as a great learning lesson for myself, and I look forward to getting back there this year.”
 
GRAHAM ON THE OCCASIONAL THOUGHT ABOUT 2012’S NEAR WIN
“I still think about it occa­sion­ally. I want to win, and it would have been so nice to get my second that night. But it is what it is, I moved on.  A race win this weekend would certainly help!”
 
JAKES AT TEXAS – SITE OF HIS BEST CAREER OVAL FINISH
The 2013 Fire­stone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway will be Jakes’ third event here.  He qual­i­fied 21st in 2012 and earned his highest career oval finish to date of 10th.  In the dual race in 2011 he qual­i­fied 30th and finished 25th in heat one and drew the 23rd starting spot in Heat 2 and finished 28th. After earning his highest overall IndyCar Series start and finish of second place at the previous event on Belle Isle, Jakes has his sights set on the top step of the podium. He has had compet­i­tive runs since the start of the season although various issues kept him from breaking through until Detroit. After having a compet­i­tive race car at Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway, Jakes feels that a compet­i­tive run at TMS is possible.  He is ranked 12th in series stand­ings with 130 points after seven of 19 races.
                “Like other places, we have shown good pace there but we haven’t been able to put every­thing together. Hope­fully after coming off a good result in Detroit this will give us some momentum for the next few races. Last year was only my second race there and we managed to finish in the top-10 so this year I will be looking to better that.  I think we should be in a good posi­tion in Texas. I was pretty happy with the car in Indi­anapolis this year and that should trans­late over.”

GRAHAM AND JAMES ON THE CHALLENGES OF RACING AT TMS
“Nowa­days one of the great chal­lenges is tire manage­ment and keeping the car under­neath you,” said Rahal. “There is by no means the amount of grip at Texas that there used to be as tires have changed, and the down­force levels of the cars have been greatly reduced. It has become one of the most chal­lenging oval tracks we will run all year.”
                “Texas is very fast and also mentally chal­lenging because of the concen­tra­tion that you need during the race so that you don’t make a mistake,” added Jakes. “Since they maxi­mized the amount of down­force that you can run, the racing has become better and you really have to work on your car setup to make sure it is good for the entire race.”

JAKES ONDETROIT REWIND
James was quick in the lone prac­tice session in Detroit and went on to earn his best qual­i­fying effort of fourth place on Friday after­noon for Saturday’s Dual which eclipsed his previous best of eighth on the road course at Motegi, Japan. On Saturday morning he improved that mark again with a second place qual­i­fying effort for Sunday’s Dual 2. The team strug­gled to extend the perfor­mance of the red “alter­nate” Firestone’s in Saturday’s race and he finished 10th. They worked to improve that in Sunday’s pre-race warm-up and in the late stages of an event-filled Dual 2 race, James drove as hard as he could to create a gap over second place before his final pit stop to come out in second and earn his best series finish.
                “Detroit was a great weekend, very exciting for the No. 16 Acorn Stair­lifts crew, but I have always thought we should have good place on the road and street courses and it was just a ques­tion of putting every­thing together. I loved the new layout and I’m very much looking forward to going back there next year.”

JAKES ON THE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CHALLENGES OF THE DOUBLEHEADER IN DETROIT
“On Sunday evening I felt fine, I guess because all my adren­a­line was still pumping. Monday morning I was hurting a little, I could have stayed in bed all day. We raced for over four hours at the weekend and with such bumpy condi­tions it was always going to be very phys­ical. Also the last 30 laps of Dual 2 were like qual­i­fying laps to make sure we created enough of a gap before the pit stop, and this is prob­ably what finished me off because that was hard work.”
 
JAKES ON MEDIA REPORTS THAT DETROIT WASBREAKOUT WEEKEND FOR HIM
“It terms of putting a result on the board, absolutely yes. We have shown on occa­sion that we have great pace but this was the first weekend where we have been able to put it all together.”

GRAHAM ON THE POSSIBLE IMPACT OF THE TEXAS TEST AND INDY EXPERIENCE HELPING THIS WEEKEND
The team tested at TMS on March 27 with Rahal behind the wheel and Jakes on site as an observer. The initial plan was for Jakes to test as well but the cool, windy condi­tions led the team to decide to save the limited allo­ca­tion of test miles for later.
             “I think the team will certainly be compet­i­tive there after our test,” said Rahal. “We found some things I thought would really help us a consid­er­able amount even though the condi­tions were pretty different. We didn’t have the best of runs at Indy, but we have moved on and are looking forward to chal­lenging for the win in Texas.”
 
JAKES ON CARRYING MOMENTUM FROM INDY, THROUGH DETROIT AND ON TO TMS
“Yes, absolutely. We had a strong run going for the first part of the race in Indy and it seems to have carried on until now. I think it’s just a combi­na­tion of everyone jelling together and ironing out the mistakes.  I’m very excited about this part of the season and really looking forward to maxi­mizing the poten­tial out of the car to move us up in the cham­pi­onship.”
 
80TH PODIUM AT DETROIT FOR RLL’S INDY CAR PROGRAM
Jakes’ first IndyCar Series podium finish of second place in Dual 2 in Detroit was the 80th for the team. To date the Indy car team has earned 20 wins, 34 second place finishes and 26 third place finishes. Rahal and Jakes brought the team second place finishes in Long Beach and Detroit so far this season.
 

RLL