HILLIARD, Ohio (September 21, 2011) – Never one to miss out on a good party, Jay Howard will trade a leisurely autumn weekend in Indianapolis for the excitement and bright lights of Las Vegas, joining Rahal Letterman Lanigan to drive in the IZOD Indy Car World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway October 16th.
Howard will join the Ohio-based team for the third time this season, this time as the driver of the newly-numbered #15 Service Central Dallara/Honda/Firestone, after having had promising outings with RLL at this year’s Indianapolis 500 as well as the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 30-year-old from Basildon, England made up 13 spots in the first of the Texas 275-milers back in June and was having a strong run in his first Indy 500 in May before a problem with a wheel ended his charge. The former Firestone Indy Lights and U.S. Formula Ford Zetec champion will be making his 13th career Indy Car series start, and his first on the high-speed 1.5-mile LVMS oval.
“We were impressed again by Jay’s pace and the ability that he showed in negotiating traffic at Texas, and we are anticipating a strong effort out of the Service Central car at Las Vegas,” said RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Vegas will be a free-for-all on a very fast track, but Jay has never shied away from close racing and we expect to be competitive with both RLL cars in the season finale.”
Howard will be partnered with compatriot Pippa Mann for the Vegas event, with Mann slated to pilot the team’s #30 machine. Howard ran with RLL teammate Bertrand Baguette at Indianapolis, and was a single-car entry for the Twin 275s in Texas. Howard had driven the team’s #88 car in those outings as part of a partnership between RLL and Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
“It’s great to be back with Service Central and Rahal Letterman Lanigan for the IndyCar World Championship at Vegas,” Howard said. “We had a strong run at Indianapolis and a bit of bad luck at Texas so we are looking to finish off the season on a high note in Vegas heading into 2012 with the new car and the expanded schedule. I can’t thank Orland [Wolford] and Bill [Ihnken] enough for sticking by my side these last two seasons and giving me another opportunity to drive the Service Central car. Vegas is the perfect venue for the finale; Randy [Bernard] has done a great job for the series thus far. I have not driven at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but I’m looking forward to hitting the track for the first time.”
“We are proud to have Jay represent the Service Central family of tire and automotive service centers,” said Bob Crostarosa, SVP marketing, TBC Retail Group. ”There is a lot of fire and drive in Jay; we look forward to watching Jay move through the pack as he did in Indy and Texas. It is sure to be an exciting race.” Crostarosa went on to say that all 1300+ locations will be tuned in to cheer for all three Service Central Cars that will be on the track.
Howard is expected to be part of the largest field of the 2011 IZOD Indy Car season, outside of the traditional 33 Indy 500 starters. In what is the swan song for the current iteration of the Indy Car engine/chassis package, race promoters are anticipating more than 30 starters for the event, which takes place on Sunday, October 16 and will be shown live on ABC starting at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.