Thursday, April 30, 2009

Paul Tracy & 15 Questions For The 2009 INDY 500

First Glimpse of PT and his new, Geico logoed firesuit. Image credit: KV Racing Technology's Photos - Facebook Wall Photos

Paul Tracy & 15 Questions For The 2009 INDY 500

Like a lot of us out here who still cling on to what is left of a CCWS spirit and CART culture, love it when good drivers, entertaining drivers are able to get loaded back into the chamber of the IRL rifle and compete.

Yesterday, the Indy Racing League held a teleconference with KV Racing Technology's Paul Tracy, who will be driving for the team in the 2009 INDY 500 set to be televised Sun, May 24 - Noon (ET) on ABC.

The Moderator asked 15 question ranging from expectations for the month of May, his preparedness, the make up of the KVRT team, and past relations with the racing community. Paul's return the the ICS scene is a refreshing blast of personality as his response to these questions point out.

Welcome back Paul ... it is as if you never left.

Paul Tracy was confirmed as the driver of a KV Racing entry in next month’s Indianapolis 500. Driving No. 15 and sponsored by GEICO insurance, the 2003 Champ Car title-winner will compete in the month of May at The Brickyard for the first time since he was controversially declared runner-up to Helio Castroneves in 2002. /// The Canadian was bullish about his chances. He said: “Every year at Indy there are a load of drivers there who just want to make the show, there are a handful who just want to run well and they’ll be happy with a Top 10 finish. /// “Well, that isn’t me. I’m in the handful that want to win this thing, and who will do everything in their power to do that, and I know KV Racing shares that same philosophy. We saw last year that KV was the best of the teams transitioning from Champ Car, and Jimmy [Vasser, team co-owner] and Mark Johnson [team manager] tell me that they have been working hard all winter on their superspeedway package. Image Credit: racer.com

Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript - Wednesday, April 29, 2009

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined now by Paul Tracy. Thanks for joining us, Paul.

PAUL TRACY: Sure.

MODERATOR: Paul will be making his 2009 IndyCar Series debut in the Indianapolis 500, driving the No. 15 GEICO/KV Racing Technology car. Paul has made five starts in the Indianapolis 500 with a best finish of second in his last start, which came in 2002.

Paul, you got into an IndyCar Series car last summer at Edmonton. Obviously you were quick right off the bat, finishing fourth in the race. Do you have any concerns now about getting back into the rhythm and being quick at Indy?

PAUL TRACY: No, not really. Obviously I've got a little bit more lead time to get ready for Indianapolis. There's a whole week of practice before the first week of qualifying. When we went to Edmonton last summer, it was really just kind of a last-minute deal. I was actually on vacation with my wife and kids at the beach in San Diego and got a phone call from Tony (George) asking if I'd like to do the race in Edmonton. That was about three days before I had to leave. Really didn't get any time to prepare for that. Hadn't driven a car in four or five months.

Paul Tracy, driving for Vision Racing, runs just ahead of Justin Wilson in the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Dallara in the 2008 Rexall Edmondton INDY. Paul Tracy, after qualifying and starting 16th, passes KV Racing Technology's Oriol Servia for 4th on the final lap. Image Credit: Covy Moore (2008)

From that standpoint I've kind of known for the last three, four weeks that this deal was going to come together. I've had time to get ready for it mentally and physically. The team obviously has fast cars this year. They were looking for a veteran driver to make their assault, KV at the 500. We all share the same goal, and that's to go there and try to win the race.

MODERATOR: You mentioned the team there. Guys you're familiar with, like Jimmy Vasser, Kevin Kalkhoven. You've known those guys on and off the track for years. Tell us about the chance to work with those guys for the month.

PAUL TRACY: I think it's great. I've known Kevin since he got into the car. Then Jimmy got involved with him. We've been competitors. But Kevin has always been very friendly with me, has said to me on a couple of different occasions that at some point he would like me to drive for him. So we've finally got that opportunity to do that. I couldn't be happier. Obviously the team is doing a good job this year. I think Mario (Moraes) is just lacking a little bit of experience. That only comes with time.

But the team, I feel they've got competitive cars. A lot of the guys on the team, the mechanics and engineers, I've worked with in the past. Quite a few of them are from Forsythe. My championship year at Forsythe, the guys on the team were on my crew, you know, three, so it should make the transition to getting there and getting up to speed fairly easy 'cause it's pretty comfortable surroundings really.

MODERATOR: Let's talk about the month of May and the race. What type of goals and expectations have you set for yourself heading into the month?

PAUL TRACY: For me, the only reason I want to go there is to try to win. It's not to go there to qualify and make the field and have a good day. I said at the press conference in Long Beach the reason I'm going there is to win. If we can do that and generate a lot of media for our sponsor with GEICO, hopefully we can grow this into something bigger and better. Right now the focus is just on Indianapolis. If that goes well enough, then maybe we can get into the races in Canada or maybe more.

Q. Like you said in Long Beach, this is the one trophy missing from your mantel and you'd like to have it. As you talked about earlier, can this be the springboard to get you back in full-time?

PAUL TRACY: I would hope so. Obviously with either a win or a great result in Indy I would hope that it would open the door to racing on a full-time basis. Last year coming back at Edmonton to come right out of the box and be in the top five or six in every practice session with Tony's (George) team, then finish fourth, I thought the expectations of that, I think everybody exceeded what we had planned to do. The excitement level after the race for that three, four, five days post race was very good. I thought, 'OK, I'm going to be in a car here.'

As time passed by, it just kind of fizzled. You know, nothing's a guarantee. Obviously this is a good opportunity. It didn't come out of the blue. I've had to generate the sponsorship to do this and find the money to do it. Nobody has handed me a ride. It takes money to run these cars. It's going to take finding a full-time sponsor to get me on the track.

Q. Toronto is back on the schedule this summer. Your old pals/enemies at Andretti Green are running the show. How much would it mean to you personally to be back on the grid with a car that's competitive to win?

PAUL TRACY: Well, obviously I would like to do that. Again, it's going take finding sponsorship to do that. Now that we've got a program for Indy, and I was at Long Beach, generated a lot of talk, generated a lot of media, a lot of exposure - some people are starting to talk. 'What is it going to take to get you in the Canadian races or more races?' So we've got the doors open now talking to more sponsors, people getting interested.

But it's tough. It's a tough market out there. I was just listening to Stanton (Barrett). It's no different. I'm no different than him. We're out there talking to sponsors, but it's hard to get a commitment from them.

Q. I remember in 2002 before the race when the team was struggling to make it into the show, you kind of called it Groundhog Day, that every day was the same. Rather than getting better, it was just getting worse. Then you were there at the very end of the race with it in your hands. Do you feel much better prepared going into Indy this year than you did back in '02 with Team Green?

PAUL TRACY: We went there again in '02 on just a one-race deal to run Indy. Our focus was the CART title with Dario (Franchitti) and myself. I think as the month was ramping up towards qualifying, we just weren't progressing and getting the setup right on the car. We struggled and struggled and struggled with it. We were just off a little bit in terms of setup. It doesn't take very much to be two, three or four miles an hour slow.

We basically on the day of qualifying, I think on the first weekend, we made a big drastic change in the final practice to try to get some speed in the car. I had lost the car in Turn 2 and backed into the wall, banged myself up pretty good. I was almost right then, I said to Barry Green, I'm ready to throw in the towel on this deal. I think I should go home for a couple days and just clear my head and think about this. If you don't want to run, or if we want to go test at Mid-Ohio with the Champ Car, then maybe that's what we should do. Barry said to go home for a couple days. I went home, got my head clear, because Indy is the kind of place where you run so much there, and once you get kind of sideways, get going the wrong direction, it's hard to get going back the right way again. Sometimes the best thing to do is just go and clear your head.

I did that. I came back. We had gotten some information and some help from some different teams and some ideas, really just changed the setup and changed a few things that we had on the car that weren't right. Then both Dario (Franchitti) and myself and Michael (Andretti), we were all quick. Second weekend, I think I qualified at like 228 (mph) on the second weekend. Then the car was good. But I was starting on the last row.

It doesn't take very much to be wrong. That's how sensitive the cars are.

Q. To go in there this year, even though Jimmy's (Vasser) team has a year of IndyCar experience now, it seems the teams that came over last year have picked up the pace dramatically. How much better suited do you feel you are going into this year's race to what you were back then?

Paul and Jimmy get even more comfortable with each other during the final ICS practice session along Shoreline Drive. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

PAUL TRACY: Well, Jimmy's (Vasser) guaranteed me a fast car, so I'm taking his word on it. He said they worked and worked and worked all winter on a lot of the fundamentals of the car, little tiny things that make big differences in terms of speed. It's not just changing a spring, changing a roll bar that makes the car fast. There's a hundred little things that make these cars fast on the superspeedways. A lot of it is body fit and aerodynamics, wheel bearings, oil. It's all the little tiny tricks that make the difference, like in a stock car. When they go to qualify at Daytona, Talladega, there's like 50 little things that make the difference. When you don't have those, it really shows.

From that standpoint, they qualified sixth at Kansas, which is a big, fast speedway, flat out, with all that preparation is where it shows. I don't think they had the race that they wanted, but the speed is in the car. With that, they've told me they've got a good car that they feel can win at Indianapolis.

Q. I noticed you were quoted recently about that 2002 race saying, I feel I kind of got swindled. Are you haunted by what happened in 2002?

PAUL TRACY: I'm not haunted by it. It's one of those things where I've seen the data and I've seen the television footage and I've seen where our cars were positioned on the track. They can measure these cars. I said to somebody at Long Beach, I watched a show on VERSUS a couple weeks ago, the closest finish in IndyCar Series history, they can measure these things by millimeters, the differences of thousandths of a second. The video of my car 16 feet ahead of Helio (Castroneves) with the green light on.

From that standpoint, I'm not haunted by it. I guess I don't have the material things that show that I won the race. I don't have the trophy. I didn't get the money that comes along with it. But from the other side of it, I have that feeling that you long for when you're a kid in your driveway playing hockey and you're counting down five seconds left and you score the winning goal, when you're a kid. We were coming down to the closing stages of the race and I made an outside pass for the win. That's what every kid dreams about, whether you're shooting baskets and there's one second left on the clock and you make the basket when you're a kid dreaming about stuff like that. That's in my soul now. So I have that feeling of winning there, which I think is more important than having a piece of -- you know, a trophy on your shelf. After a while, you never look at it anymore and it just gets tarnished.

Paul Tracy with team owner, KV Racing Technology, Jimmy Vasser in the pits at the the 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, soon after the announcement that Tracy will be driving the Geico sponsored #15 KVRT Dallara in the upcoming INDY 500. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Q. You have the feeling. Maybe you'll get the actual hardware shortly.

PAUL TRACY: Yeah, we'll see. I'm excited about it. Get an opportunity to go back and try to do it.

Q. Probably the one great irony of the reunification last year was the fact that you lost your job. How have you been able to deal with that, watching everybody else move on to the new series where you're left on the sideline and your time clock is clicking away on your career?

PAUL TRACY: Obviously it's been frustrating. But as the merger -- the only way I can really say where I'm at today is because while the merger wheels were in process, I was being told a different story by (Gerry) Forsythe, that there wasn't going to be a merger, that I was going to continue to drive for them. That all didn't go the way it was told to me. So I was under contract to Forsythe. It took me a long time legally to be in a position where I was comfortable from a legal standpoint to go and drive for another team. So by the time I was able to do that, the season was already going and there was really no opportunity to get in another car.

Like I said before, with the result in Edmonton, I thought the door would be open. Nothing really happened. Nothing happened over this winter until the last three weeks. So, it has been a little bit frustrating. But I guess it's a lot of different factors that happen, whether it be economy, sponsorship and things like that.

Q. Has it basically in your mind been the economy? Is that the biggest stumbling block right now?

PAUL TRACY: It doesn't help. I think the economy, sponsorship dictates whether the wheels turn on the car. I haven't had a sponsor. I've gone out and found this deal with GEICO, a friend of mine, Doug Barnett, who does a lot of work with them, their NASCAR program. Without that I wouldn't be on the track. It's really a case of if you have money, you'll get a ride, and if you don't, then you sit.

Q. Has the 2002 race been a haunting thing since then? How did you get over it?

PAUL TRACY: I got over it the next week. I went to Milwaukee in the CART race and won there. I kind of let things go pretty easily. Obviously, I've won a lot of races since then, won a championship since then. Like I said, I've got that feeling that's burned inside of me of what it takes to win that race, but I don't have the material things that go along with it, which that's just the way it is.

Q. It's been a couple years since you've been on an oval and seven years since you've been on this one. Anything about that that concerns you or do you feel like once you get out there and get going everything will come back pretty quick?

PAUL TRACY: No, I think it will come back pretty quick. Obviously, I've been doing this for so long, have a lot of experience at it. I don't think it will take me very long to get back up to speed. It's not like I'm going there as a rookie, never seen the place, never been on a track like that. I've raced there a bunch of times, done lots of miles. So I don't think it will be too difficult for me.

Q. I know you joked at Long Beach, you were asked about whether you'd be interested in getting some extra track time, going out with the rookies. You said, 'Former winners aren't invited to do that.' If the extra track time was available, is that something you'd want to take advantage of or are you content to start with everybody else next week?

PAUL TRACY: I know they're talking to the league, I guess they have, apart from the rookie session, they have a refresher session, which is the extra miles that don't really cost anything in terms of the engine program. So if we can do that, we're talking to the league now about getting a handful of laps on the track before official practice starts on Wednesday. So we're trying to plan on that.

MODERATOR: Paul, thank you for taking the time to join us this afternoon. Appreciate that. We're looking forward to seeing you back here in Indianapolis next week.

PAUL TRACY: Thanks, guys.
Reference Here>>

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kansas INDY - Play By Play Via Tweet By Tweet

Vision Racing's team owner, Tony George, checking on "Tweets" in the Vision Racing Twitter account during morning warm ups before the race. Image Credit: Vision Racing

Kansas INDY - Play By Play Via Tweet By Tweet

The first oval race of the season has the teams and drivers of the IndyCar Series visiting Kansas Speedway and its 1.5 mile "tri-oval". It takes a blink of an eye to get around the track at over 200 miles per hour so the experiment of capturing the action on the track via "Tweets" on Twitter may be a tall challenge.


The weather at start time is threatening at best, wind and rain can become a factor that everyone may have to deal with. So let's begin and get this show on the track.

indy44Here's to a safe and rain free race people! WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FuriousWedgeThat os one nasty looking radar

VERSUS comes on the screen live with the command for drivers to bring their cars to the course - a great Dan Weldon retrospective!

MyNameIsIRLFYI - About halfway through the stock car race at Talladega and the leader is...Sam Hornish Jr.

25 MPH winds gusting to 35 MPH sets the weather background of this gathering at Kansas Speedway.

Forboding skies above Kansas Speedway with nasty gusts of wind during Sunday warm up. Image Credit: Vision Racing

FuriousWedgeI want me one of those giant shopping carts on the Kansas track

TheEDJELooking forward to live tweeting the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 being run at Kansas Speedway!

luczodragonLatest radar shows rain coming. Hoping it holds off long enough for Kansas race to be official

Long Beach Grand Prix review on VERSUS ... a decent race and a decent reception from IRL to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to the IRL.

VisionRacingVision Racing cars being called to the grid. Driver intros coming up. Have a nice race everyone.

TheEDJE@VisionRacing We will be watching on ALL channels - Have a good outing with RHR and Ed!!!

FastMachinesTime for the first oval race of the Indy Car season. Who's your favorite? I think Helio will win from the back row. #indycar

FuriousWedgeHow great would it be if Tony finally got his Indy win to go with a afro on the Borg-Warner and all the winner's photos.

MyNameIsIRL@FuriousWedge If - I mean WHEN - Kanaan wins at Indy he might decide to never cut that hair again.

CrashGladysHelio still grinning ear to ear ;-) #indycar

FuriousWedge@CrashGladys apparently grinning about Danica's SHAPE cover photo

MyNameIsIRLBTW - I'm on the LiveBlog now. And twitter. I've cloned myself. http://www.mynameisirl.com/...

TheEDJE @MyNameIsIRL Keep 'em coming, this is warming up to be a great New Media effort all around!! ... Oh, and Go Bobby D!

kvracing1min till Driver Start Your Engine!

DRIVERS, START YOUR ENGINES - Radio broadcast from the IRL officials stating row by row, 1-Hot, 2-Hot, 3-Hot ... pretty cool.

IndyCarSeriesRT: @kvracing: Driver start your engine, all out on track for first warmup lap

kvracingGreen Green Green at Kansas Speedway, let's hope the rain stays away!!

The field at the start of the 2009 Road Runner Turbo 300 race at Kansas Speedway. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

IndyCarPRGREEN FLAG: #02 Rahal leads field into Turn 1

LAP 5 Kanaan takes it three wide and has to back out - way tight

kvracingP4 after the start, gained 4 spots.

VisionRacingCarpenter is P7. RHR working the weight jacker. P21

IndyCarPRLap 8: Lead change: #9 Dixon takes lead from #02 Rahal with a pass on the frontstretch.

TheEDJE@IndyCarPR ... Bobby D remains at third

LAP 14 Vitor Meira slows and Helio Castroneves rear ends Meira, debris takes off EJ Viso's wing

Helio Castroneves, Penske Racing gets into the back of Vitor Meira, A.J. Foyt Enterprises. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

FuriousWedgeHelio and Vitor into each other; are we going to get words like 2007 Michigan? Looks like Viso caught debris too.

LAP 16 All cars in for the first pitstop - Doornbos out first

IndyCarPR#06 Doornbos hit a tire from the #02 team on exit.

kvracingPit stopped, changed tires and more fuel. Yellow Flag at the moment! If your watching tv, that was me with the umbrella:)

IndyCarPR#06 Doornbos has been sent to the rear of the field for hitting the pit equipment. New leader is #9 Dixon.

VisionRacing@KVracing 's Fiona gets airtime for twirling umbrella trick.

RESTART

TheEDJEGreat draft dicing action.

VisionRacingDixon leads on lap 25. Rahal and kanaan in pursuit. Ed is P6. Has been battling with Panther's Wheldon. P16 for Ryan.

VisionRacingCan't imagine how tough it must be to be battling this wind in turn 3+4

35 of 200 LAPS Complete

kvracing
P5 after 35 laps and gradually pulling away from field, order is Dixon, Rahal, Kanaan, Briscoe, Moraes, Carpenter


IndyCarPRLap 40: #9 Dixon leads #02 Rahal by .6202 of a second. #13 Viso is off the pace.

EJ Viso out of the race - the damage suffered from the debris was more than just the wing.

FastMachines
My Indy Car pick, HCN, is back to 10th after early trouble. #indycar


FuriousWedgeThe outside line is killing momentum in turns 3-4, we just watched it kill Marco, Whedon and Kanaan all rapid fire

VisionRacing"Light on grip overall." says Ed. 5 laps until pitstops. Very gusty for cars out there.

Doornbos gets lapped on LAP 64 while maintaining P18

VisionRacing"Light on grip overall." says Ed. 5 laps until pitstops. Very gusty for cars out there.

65 of 200 LAPS complete

IndyCarPRLap 71: Leader #9 Dixon on pit road for service.

Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing makes a pitstop - Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

FastMachinesWhy so NASCAR fans like crashfests? Big wreck with 8 to go, not a surprise.

VisionRacingStill loose in 3+4 says Ed. Currently P6. RHR is P15 and making gains. Had a good lap time.

IndyCarPRLap 80: Green flag stops complete. #9 Dixon leads #11 Kanaan by 3.3667 seconds.

85 of 200 LAPS Completed

IndyCarPR
Lap 90: #9 Dixon leads #11 Kanaan by 3.9404 seconds.


VisionRacingRHR being told to stiffen up front bar. He's having trouble staying on inside line. Ed is reporting a vibration in the 20 car.

IndyCarPRLap 93: #6 Briscoe to second place with a pass on the backstretch.

CAUTION - Luczo Dragon driver, Raphael Matos gets loose from the wash of the car in front and takes the car to the wall with a hard brush.

Pitstops all of the way around - LAP 99

FuriousWedgeI like the VS coverage but they seriously need a "Race off Pit Road" car listing

TheEDJE@FuriousWedge - I'm hip! Out of pit position graphics like NASCAR - Really!

RESTART LAP 105

Three wide and Dario gets racy - Graham Rahal passes on the inside - New tire for oval tracks - grippier!

chunter16Let's start calling it GAP- Gannassi, Andretti, Penske #irl

TheEDJE@chunter16 - That would be true except NHLR is breaking in and Vision is in seventh

IndyCarPRLap 120: #6 Briscoe leads #9 Dixon by .3678 of a second.

garytribIn MA [Marco Andretti] pit....watching a storm coming this way :(

VisionRacingThis tweet is dedicated to our sponsor William Rast CEO Colin Dyne. Happy Birthday from the Vision team. Now back to regular tweeting.

TheEDJE@VisionRacing - Nice play! It never hurts to be cordial ... and commercial.

IndyCarPRLap 130: #6 Briscoe leads #9 Dixon by .5202 of a second.

VisionRacingWeather is headed our way. Ryan not really sorry to hear that. Everyone has dialed it back a little. 130 laps complete. You can smell ra ...

VisionRacingWind has picked up. "Car is all over the place. Wicked loose." Says RHR. " That's the wind. Weather is coming" says Vision eng. Neil Fife.

MyNameIsIRLThis is starting to smell like a festival of fuel conservation.

FuriousWedge@MyNameIsIRL likely everyone trying to last until the rain

LAP146 - Stretching fuel so that the top teams can make it to the end ... if rain comes early.
Top 3 Briscoe Dixon Castoneves

Dario on the wall as Briscoe pulls into the pits - waived through because the Yellow came out, Briscoe looses four positions. Dario was carrying too much speed into the pits and almost hits Graham Rahal.

IndyCarPRLap 153: Lead cars on pit road for final pit stops. Dixon wins race off of pit road followed by #3 Castroneves and #11

Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing passes Dan Wheldon, Panther Racing - Image Credit: Andy Sallee

155 of 200 LAPS Complete

VisionRacingWeather is 10 miles away. Ed in top10. "We're going to need a good restart Ed." Says Jeff Britton. No radio for Ed but he can hear team. Top 3 Dixon Castroneves Kanaan. This will be an important restart.

RESTART 41 LAPS to go - Flat out until the end - fuel is NOT an issue.

FastMachines40 to go for Indy Car. A great race is shaping up. #Indycar

IndyCarPRLap 170: #9 Dixon leads #3 Castroneves by .4703 of a second

MyNameIsIRL
Didn't Arute say the rain was "10 minutes away" like 20 minutes ago. He'll NEVER get gig as a weatherman with calls like that.


VisionRacingEd battling Rahal for 9th. Lost the position. P10. 25 laps left. 20 car good on fuel.

kvracing25 laps to go, P11, Mario doing very well

CrashGladysCome on guys, beat the rain! #indycar

IndyCarPRLap 180: #9 Dixon leads #3 Castroneves by .4628 of a second.

MyNameIsIRLWith the white racing gloves I half expect Wheldon to be checking his car for dust.

TheEDJERahal gets the best of Mutoh - great patience

VisionRacingEd gunning for Wheldon now. Top 3 Dixon Castroneves Kanaan. RHR let's cars go by on inside. Still P15

kvracing10 laps to go, P11, Mario doing very well

IndyCarPRLap 190: #9 Dixon leads #3 Castroneves by .6733 of a second

TheEDJEDixon looks as though he has this one in the can fo the first win of the season.

Too bad all of the races are not Street/Road courses as opposed to this six race run of just
Ovals!

kvracingMoraes finishes 11th at Road Runner Turbo Indy 300. KVRT crew, engineers and Mario all done a great job today :) Indy 500 here we come!!

IndyCarPR
Lap 200: CHECKERED. #9 Dixon wins the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 by .7104 of a second over #3 Castroneves.


FastMachinesDixon wins! Helio comes in second. #indycar

VisionRacingNice job guys. Ed finishes P9. RHR p15 and brings it home in one piece. Congrats Dixie. Top 5 are Dixon Castroneves Kanaan Briscoe Patrick

Podium: race winner Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, second place Helio Castroneves, Team Penske, third place Tony Kanaan, Andretti Green Racing - Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

So ends the third race of the 2009 season and the first Oval - the Transition Players got beat up some ... Will Power had to sit this one out because of contract reasons (Castroneves came back), Doornbos suffered a driving penalty - P12, Rahal had ugly understeer in 3 and 4 - P7 for his best ever Oval finish (previous best - P10), Moraes in at P11, and Justin Wilson finishes at P14. EJ Viso had to come out early due to debris from a contact crash in front of him damaged his car out of race worthiness.

In total season points, the Transition Players hold on to P8 (Rahal) and P9 (Wilson) going into the INDY 500.

See you all in Indiana when all roads lead to the INDY 500.

... notes from The EDJE

Transition Players Nail Down P1 & P2 For 2nd Time This Season

Pole winner Graham Rahal, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. This is his second pole award earned in three races this season - he earned on for Saint Petersburg, a road course ... and now one for Kansas Speedway, a short oval course. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

Transition Players Nail Down P1 & P2 For 2nd Time This Season

Qualifications, Kansas Speedway:
Three of the top ten positions held by Transition Players ... with the front row filled by teammates from Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing P1 - Graham Rahal and P2 - Bobby D, Robert Doornbos.

This makes it that in two of three ICS races held this year, a Transition Player has nailed down the pole position ... congrats to Graham Rahal. Further, in all three qualifications sessions this year in the ICS season, a Transition Player has nailed down P2 (Justin Wilson/Dale Coyne Racing at St. Pete, Will Power/Penske Racing at Long Beach, and now Bobby D/Newman Haas/Lanigan here at Kansas Speedway).

Two time Indy 500 winner, Arie Luyendyk as he coaches Robert Doornbos through the 1.5 mile oval from the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing pit - Kansas Speedway 2009 - Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

It has to be mentioned that Doornbos was lifted to P2 from P4 when the IRL ruled that the lap times of P2 Dario Franchitti/Target Chip Ganassi, and P3 Helio Castroneves/Penske Racing would be disallowed because both drivers, during each of their four lap qualifying runs, dipped their left tires below the White, inside track, boundary line. These two drivers will start from the back of the field for Sunday's race.

Robert Doornbos, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing secures a quick enough speed for four laps to qualify at P4. This position was later upgraded to P2 next to his teammate, Graham Rahal. The two NHLR drivers will fill the front row to start Sunday's third race of this IndyCar Series 2009 season. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

Revised qualifying order (** denotes Transition Player):


Pos Driver Team Speed
1. Graham Rahal** Newman/Haas/Lanigan 211.311
2. Robert Doornbos** Newman/Haas/Lanigan 210.665

Danica Patrick gears up and gets ready to qualify fast enough to nab P3 on the grid, Sunday ... just behind NHLR Teammates Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos - Kansas Speedway 2009 - Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

3. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 210.470
4. Scott Dixon Ganassi 210.368
5. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 210.220
6. Mario Moraes** KV 210.197
7. Ryan Briscoe Penske 210.098
8. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 210.082
9. Dan Wheldon Panther 209.144
10. Ed Carpenter Vision 208.956
11. Sarah Fisher Fisher 208.543
12. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 208.537
13. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 208.506
14. Vitor Meira Foyt 208.461
15. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 208.382
16. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 208.145
17. Justin Wilson** Coyne 207.971
18. EJ Viso** HVM 206.779
19. Stanton Barrett 3G 205.820
20. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 205.673
21. Dario Franchitti Ganassi -
22. Helio Castroneves Penske -

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dallara Options Pared Down For ICS Transition Parity - UPDATED

Where parity is insured ... the TechPad inspection tool. The 2009 rules change and the process that happens on this tool, will allow for greater competition between teams that field cars like the Luczo Dragon #2 Dallara, piloted by Raphael Matos pictured here. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Dallara Options Pared Down For ICS Transition Parity

Last year at this time, it was the first year of the merger of the two professional open wheel racing series and a couple of races were under the belt of all the competitors. The pains of transition were beginning to show themselves, in that the teams coming in from the former CART/ChampCar World Series were the teams that had to learn a whole new set of venues, learn how to drive and set up a whole new chassis, and begin to learn the nuances of the allowable variables the Established teams had been working with in order to gain a performance advantage.

One set of option variables focused on the length of the wheelbase itself. Last year, Transition teams were beginning to recognize that they did not have enough chassis parts to compete ... especially on ovals, and this year the IRL decided to do something about it.

Last year, the talk was that the Transition teams were going to have a tough time learning to drive on oval tracks (an IRL main staple) and as it turns out, the deck was stacked against the Transition teams.



The rules for setting up a Dallara chassis allowed the teams to vary the wheelbase length in order to set the car up for greater handling and speed based upon the nature of the oval venue they were tackling. A team could choose wheelbase measurements from 118 inches, 120 inches, and 122 inches. Along with these measurement options were the suspension configuration set up parts which would vary the amount of travel and dampening the chassis would have in the oval corners which could add to greater speed, stability and handling throughout the race.

No wonder the Transition teams were complaining that they did not have enough spare parts to field their Dallara cars ... they did not have ALL of the parts (and wheelbase options for the Dallara) that would give the teams ALL of the set up options available to ALL of the Established teams.

Kansas represents the first oval race of this sophomore season of unification and begins a run of six races where the only intentional right-hand turns during the race will be at pit box exit in order to enter the main pit lane to resume racing on the track. This will be the first oval race where there will be no excuses and all teams will be racing roughly the same chassis, on the same wheelbase, with the same set of set up options in the suspension parts. The deck will not be stacked against the Transition Players as it was on oval venues throughout all of the 2008 unification season.

The 122 inch standard measurement that all teams will be running on oval race venues this year. Parity and costs sited as the reasons to pare down these sets of set up options for the 2009 ICS Championship season. Image Credit: IndyCar.com

This excerpted and edited from IndyCar.com -

Oval equalizer

By Dave Lewandowski - Indycar.com - Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There's an under-the-radar rule change this year as IndyCar Series teams tackle the first oval of the season this weekend at Kansas Speedway. Wheelbase options are out; 122 inches is in.


Partly another cost-saving move passed along by the sanctioning Indy Racing League and partly a competition enhancement, the uniformity (with a half-inch tolerance for caster adjustments) puts more of the emphasis on drivers and their maintenance crews.


"It won't affect the short tracks because everybody had to run the long suspension on the short tracks just to get the car to handle," IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch said. "On the big tracks it will make a difference because what you run into when you have 118, 120 and 122 inches -- and every possibility in between -- is every one of those suspension, because it changes the relationship of the wheel to the sidepod, changes the way the air flows over the car so you have to wind tunnel, shaker rig and 7-
post test all those suspensions in every possible configuration.
----

"Because (the wheelbase is) longer, the cars won't be as sensitive in traffic as a short car," Blanch said. "The shorter the car is like driving a Volkswagen compared to a limousine. It should make it easier on the tech side to check things and check relationships to the wheels and wings, too.

"It limits the options the engineer has, but it makes it more important to get it right every time and it makes it more important for the guys working on the car to really pay attention to what they're doing. If you're wheel isn't spinning free and the next guy's is, you're talking hundredths of a second top to bottom (of the field) on an oval in qualifying. Just how easy your wheel spins could make the difference.


"On an oval car, you're almost building a worn out race car. You wear out the rod ends and make the wheel bearings spin as free as you can. You don't want to wait for the car to wear it out. It's a constant kind of game of making sure you get it worn out just the right amount. If you could just change to a different part and go faster, then it's not as important that every little thing you're doing is right.

Reference Here>>

The next six races are critical for all racers, but even more critical for the Transition Player because now he has a playing field of uniformity to compete in and this may show them (and the ChampCar culture-rooted fans they bring along) the promise of competing in open wheel unification!

... notes from The EDJE

UPDATED 4-25-2009, 2:00 PM PT:

Pole winner Graham Rahal, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. This is his second pole award earned in three races this season - he earned on for Saint Petersburg, a road course ... and now one for Kansas Speedway, a short oval course. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

Qualifications, Kansas Speedway: Three of the top ten positions held by Transition Players ... with the front row filled by teammates from Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing P1 - Graham Rahal and P2 - Bobby D, Robert Doornbos.

This makes it that in two of three ICS races held this year, a Transition Player has nailed down the pole position ... congrats to Graham Rahal. Further, in all three qualifications sessions this year in the ICS season, a Transition Player has nailed down P2 (Justin Wilson/Dale Coyne Racing at St. Pete, Will Power/Penske Racing at Long Beach, and now Bobby D/Newman Haas/Lanigan here at Kansas Speedway).

It has to be mentioned that Doornbos was lifted to P2 from P4 when the IRL ruled that the lap times of P2 Dario Franchitti/Target Chip Ganassi, and P3 Helio Castroneves/Penske Racing would be disallowed because both drivers, during each of their four lap qualifying runs, dipped their left tires below the White, inside track, boundary line. These two drivers will start from the back of the field for Sunday's race.

Robert Doornbos, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing secures a quick enough speed for four laps to qualify at P4. This position was later upgraded to P2 next to his teammate, Graham Rahal. The two NHLR drivers will fill the front row to start Sunday's third race of this IndyCar Series 2009 season. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2009)

Revised qualifying order (** denotes Transition Player):


Pos Driver Team Speed
1. Graham Rahal** Newman/Haas/Lanigan 211.311
2. Robert Doornbos** Newman/Haas/Lanigan 210.665
3. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 210.470
4. Scott Dixon Ganassi 210.368
5. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 210.220
6. Mario Moraes** KV 210.197
7. Ryan Briscoe Penske 210.098
8. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 210.082
9. Dan Wheldon Panther 209.144
10. Ed Carpenter Vision 208.956
11. Sarah Fisher Fisher 208.543
12. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 208.537
13. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 208.506
14. Vitor Meira Foyt 208.461
15. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon 208.382
16. Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 208.145
17. Justin Wilson** Coyne 207.971
18. EJ Viso** HVM 206.779
19. Stanton Barrett 3G 205.820
20. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision 205.673
21. Dario Franchitti Ganassi -
22. Helio Castroneves Penske -

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Heads In The Game - An INDY Long Beach 2009 Retrospective

Penske Racing's driver, Ryan Briscoe, working through chassis set-ups with team owner, Roger Penske during Practice session #3 of the 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Ryan Briscoe had trouble handling the demands thrown up by the streets around Shoreline Drive, failing to make it into the Firestone Fast Six in "Knockout" qualifying and eventually finishing the race out of the top ten at P13. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Heads In The Game - An INDY Long Beach 2009 Retrospective

A Photo/Video compilation of the event from the pits. Photos taken during the three days of practice, qualification, and competition at the 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and the first ever IndyCar Series event in Long Beach under full unification of open wheel racing competition in North America.

The video uses close-up images of the drivers as they sit in their Dallara race cars while engineers tweak the chassis in order to gain faster lap times. Red Wall tires Vs Black Wall tires, umbrellas, cockpit fans to keep drivers comfortable, pit in, pit out, add fuel, and discuss the set up with team owners are postures expressed by the players who drive here and have their heads in the game.


Video music overlay version performed by the Kings of Leon - "Sex On Fire".

Players in order of appearance are (some are repeated with photos taken in time sequence) Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dario Franchitti, Justin Wilson, Ed Carpenter, Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, EJ Viso, Mike Conway, Stanton Barrett, Robert Doornbos, Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Vitor Meira, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, and Will Power.


Dallaras at full song from the sounds of Honda engines overlay this version.

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, April 19, 2009

“Vacation” Pays Dividends For Franchitti At INDY Long Beach

Dario Franchitti, driving the Target Chip Ganassi #10 Dallara, receives the White Flag as he crosses the Start/Finish Line on Shoreline Drive with one more lap to go for the win of the 35th Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach. Image Credit: James Doss, Have Camera Inc. (2009)


“Vacation” Pays Dividends For Franchitti At INDY Long Beach


On a 97 degree day (a record for this day) at Long Beach, one of the most demanding street courses in modern motorsports history, a driver has to bring his (or her) “A-Game” in order to win. Relaxed, Ready. And Rested … after taking a one year “vacation/break” from open wheel motorsports competition, Dario Franchitti, 2007 ICS Champion (and Chip Ganassi) - out pitted, out conserved (on fuel), and out communicated Will Power (and a Penske pit crew managed by Rick Mears) to win the 35th Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach.

Will Power had secured the pole position and maintained the position through the first round of pit stops. Chip Ganassi brought Dario in a little early during the first stint, suspecting that because most all of the teams had opted to start the race using the Red Option sidewall, softer compound tires, that the grip of the tires would go away … and some of the drivers would tangle, or make a mistake that would bring out a full course Yellow Caution Flag. Chip was right.

Mike Conway nosed his Dreyer & Reinbold, Dad’s Root Beer car into the Turn 1 wall bringing out a local Yellow. Then, Transition Player hopeful, EJ Viso of HVM Racing (starting in position #4) was tapped by Franchitti’s Target Chip Ganassi teammate, Scott Dixon (P6), stalling Viso’s broken Dallara at turn #7.

This incidents served to jumble the field and catch Power out for 32 laps until the next pit stop… along with a five car pile up going into the hairpin turn #11 that leads to the long right sweeping straightaway of Shoreline Drive. This incident put another top qualifier, and another Transition Player hopeful, out of the race from the damage the incident had caused. Justin Wilson, who had qualified for the pole position at the last ChampCar World Series race held here at Long Beach in 2008, qualified and started in position #5.

A disruption in communications had Will Power at a little disadvantage. Radio communications with the in-car radio system only operated with a small window of one-way (in) delivery so the Penske team had to resort to Pit Boards hung over the wall to let their driver know when to PIT and etc. Will believed he heard that there was a full course Yellow Flag caution when, in fact, the call was a local Yellow Flag caution. Will slowed and a couple of cars went by – one of them was Dario’s full communications enabled Target Chip Ganassi Dallara.

The stage was set for a show down of pit strategy and driving to conserve fuel. The attitudes of both drivers, in the end, was that each would have had the best of each other if they did not have to drive, maintaining position due to fuel conservation tactics, to win and to keep second place.

To be honest, the way the weekend unfolded for Will Power, and how he responded to the multiple unusual challenges thrown at him and the team (Helio Castroneves late arrival due to an acquittal on Tax issues – Will having to break in a new, untested chassis and still have the fastest track times), Dario needed his prior ChampCar track experience and the one year “Vacation/Break” … just to beat the former ChampCar and current ICS rising star!

How the field fared (*** denotes Transition Player):

Pos / Driver / Team / Gap
1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi
2. Will Power*** Penske + 3.3182s
3. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green + 4.0537s
4. Danica Patrick Andretti Green + 5.0742s
5. Dan Wheldon Panther + 6.5655s
6. Marco Andretti Andretti Green + 7.5900s
7. Helio Castroneves Penske + 8.6332s
8. Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon + 9.4835s
9. Robert Doornbos*** Newman/Haas/Lanigan + 9.9583s
10. Alex Tagliani*** Conquest + 13.6185s
11. Ryan Hunter-Reay Vision + 15.2097s
12. Graham Rahal*** Newman/Haas/Lanigan + 15.8507s
13. Ryan Briscoe Penske + 1m05.1013s
14. Vitor Meira Foyt + 1 lap
15. Scott Dixon Ganassi + 1 lap
16. Darren Manning Dreyer & Reinbold + 1 lap
17. Stanton Barrett 3G + 1 lap
18. Ed Carpenter Vision + 3 laps

Retirements:

Driver Team Laps
Mario Moraes*** KV 71
Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 60
Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold 51
Justin Wilson*** Dale Coyne 24
EJ Viso*** HVM 16
(ht: autosport.com)













Unification of the series had brought out the best in Long Beach for this 35th edition of the race on Shoreline Drive. The competitors were very pleased with the crowd reaction and the environment during the four days of event activity.

Dario said it best during his post race news conference (to paraphrase) - "We went to local eateries at night and the crowds ... the buzz in the atmosphere surrounding the venue were fantastic ... pretty cool."

View Video Highlights From VERSUS Here>>

... notes from The EDJE

Transition Player, Will Power, Takes INDY LB Pole

Rick Mears (center profile with black cap) stands as "Captain" of the Will Power, Penske Racing, Verizon Wireless sponsored pit operation. Will Power takes the pole for the first ever IRL Long Beach Grand Prix ... Will was last year's ChampCar Long Beach Grand Prix winner. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Transition Player, Will Power, Takes INDY LB Pole

Dario Franchitti, Justin Wilson***, Raphael Matos, EJ Viso***, Scott Dixon and Will Power*** battled for the pole in the Firestone Fast Six after advancing out of the second round. Three Transition Players (***) make the Firestone Fast Six for sunday's race ... now, that's parity!

How they fared ...



Will Power will defend his Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach title from the pole on Sunday after running the fastest lap in the Firestone Fast Six final round of qualifying this afternoon.

Power, driving the "NEW" Vorizon Wireless No. 12 Team Penske machine (with the pit crew managed by Rick Mears) after Helio Castroneves returned to the No. 3 this morning, ran a lap of 1:09.7107 (101.631 m.p.h.) to defeat Dario Franchitti for the top spot.

Row 2 will feature rookie driver Raphael Matos and E.J. Viso, who earned his best starting position in IndyCar Series competition. The third row will see Justin Wilson on the inside and defending series champion Scott Dixon on the outside.

By comparison, last year, Justin Wilson captured the pole position in his ChampCar DP01 with a time of 1:06.6020 (105.898 m.p.h.).

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, April 18, 2009

INDY Long Beach - Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race

INDY Long Beach - Toyota Pro Celebrity Race Winners - Keanu Reeves & Al Unser, Jr.taking a victory lap. - Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2009)

INDY Long Beach - Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race

The Pro/Celebrity race was a test of patience and driving skill in combination with camaraderie and a love of competition.

Press Room branding change to Toyota Pro/Celebrity event - Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2009)

The really fun thing about this type of event is that in the department store of life, Sports is the toy store ... Pro/Celebrity racing is a first step at realizing how toy-like this once proud pursuit can become.

Cars crunch the walls around the track as the Professional drivers set up the unsuspecting Celebrities into doing something stupid ... like crash into the wall at turn one because the driver was not going to let the professional "out-brake" them into the corner and pass. So the Professional pushes the Celebrity just enough but not enough to carry too much speed so that when the celebrity crashes, they could just scoot around and leave the carnage behind.

The Celebrity Dais from left to right - Carlos Mencia - Comedian and host of Comedy Central’s “Mind of Mencia.” Has appeared in “The Heartbreak Kid,” “29 Palms.”, Winner Keanu Reeves - Actor whose films include “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “The Matrix,” “The Matrix Reloaded,” “The Replacements,” “Speed,” “Walk in the Clouds,” “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”, last year's Celebrity winner Jamie Little - ESPN/ABC pit reporter for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series who returns to compete in the “Pro” category, and Eric Close - Actor, currently co-starring on CBS's “Without a Trace” as FBI agent Martin Fitzgerald. Other television roles include “Steven Spielberg's Taken,” “Now and Again,” “Dark Skies,” “Sisters,” “The Magnificent Seven.” - Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2009)

Keanu shares with reporters how he was able to end up winning the Celebrity category after a Green Flag restart toward the conclusion of the event.



Al Unser continues to have a week of his life - after being inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on Thursday, re-dedicate the Weyland mural on the side of the Long Beach Convention Center on Friday, Al wins (in an extremely easy style) the Pro category of the 2009 Pro/Celebrity race.

A usually accessible Al Unser, Jr., signs a tee-shirt for a fan as he walks from the pits to an appearance at a sponsor event at the track. Image Credit Edmund Jenks (2009)

This excerpted and edited from China Daily -

Keanu Reeves revs engines to win Celebrity Race
China Daily - Updated: 2009-04-19 11:30

Keanu Reeves came in first among celebrities at the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach event on Saturday.

The “Matrix” star finished fourth overall in a mixed field that included racing pros Al Unser Jr., who won the 10-lap charity race, and Johnny Benson and Tom Rudnai, who finished second and third, respectively.

Other stars who revved up for the event included “Cadillac Records” star Adrien Brody, “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek, comedian Carlos Mencia, “24” star Mary Lynn Rajskub and “From G’s To Gents” host Fonzworth Bentley.
Reference Here>>

Welcome to the Toy Department!

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, April 17, 2009

INDY Long Beach - Dallara's First Practice Sessions

Hot Wheels IndyCar Dallara - Hot Wheels take to the track at Long Beach the first time in unification of North American Open Wheel Automobile Racing. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

INDY Long Beach - Dallara's First Practice Sessions

The sound of the Dallara Honda engines filled the air and bounced/reverberated off of the buildings in downtown Long Beach for the first time today.

Here is a sample of the experience with updates to follow.


At the end of the first practice session, three of the top five lap speeds were registered by Transition Players from the former ChampCar World Series!

Top Five As Follows (** denotes Transition Player):

Dario Franchetti - 1:11.1915
Ryan Briscoe - 1:11.5385
Mario Moraes** - 1:116395
Will Power** - 1:11.6512
Graham Rahal** - 1:11.6777

All covered by less than a half of a second on the clock!

Dallara Logo painted on the side of the manufacturer's transport truck. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Well, it's back to the track for the 2:00 PM PT session #2.

----

Second practice leaderboard. Screen Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

The second practice ended and the Transition players did not fare as well as expected. It was the general consensus around the track that local knowledge would win out given all other things being equal. Guess again.

Penske Racing has a manufacturer's knowledge, a ChampCar ex-patriot as one of it's drivers, and a former home field advantage to take into account as the team has placed last year's winner Will Power in the lead speed position with Ryan Briscoe taking station at P9 - This just in ... Helio Castroneves, the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, was just acquitted by a Florida jury of six counts of tax evasion and he will drive the #3 Dallara platform.

Chip Ganassi, team owner of the cars driven by ICS Champions Scott Dixon (2008) and Dario Frachetti (2007). Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Closely following Will Power and Penske (who will be assigned a third Dallara sponsored by Verizon Wireless and it will carry the #12) is Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon in P2 and his teammate, Dario Franchetti notching in at P6.

Positions 3, 4, 5 are held by relative rookies to the track with Luczo Dragon Racing's Raphael Matos, Panther's Dan Weldon, and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Mike Conway.

This leaves the Transition Players (after Will Power who has to take on an untested chassis) struggling along at positions 10 - Graham Rahal, 11 - EJ Viso, 12 - Justin Wilson, 14 - Robert Doornbos, 15 - Mario Moraes, and finally, 17 - Alex Tagliani.



A slow, sad day for the merged ChampCar crowd and the people who follow their fortunes.

... notes from The EDJE

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two Questions With Graham Rahal - VERSUS



Two Questions With Graham Rahal - VERSUS

Actually, we at The EDJE had a few more questions that we would have loved to ask Graham, but VERSUS has a business model that serves a larger audience than just Edmund Jenks.


In fact, the above interview was part of a list of questions VERSUS asked from "... notes from The EDJE" that made up a larger exclusive video package produced by VERSUS in order to kick off the 2009 IndyCar Series championship season.

Here is an interview I had with Graham Rahal before the last ChampCar race held at Long Beach on turn 8. The Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame induction ceremony had concluded and this small crowd had gathered in what appeared to be a track inspection and review process. Graham Rahal, Jonny Summerland and engineers from Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing were discussing bumps and other traits of the track at this corner on Pine Avenue (the one that begins at the back straightaway), and Graham decided to break off the discussion and give an impromptu interview. At the time, Graham had just won the first street course race of the first "Merged" ICS season in 2008 and Graham had mentioned in a previous interview that teams that were transitioning into the IRL from the ChampCar World Series had trouble getting parts for the Dallara cars they had been assigned ... especially OVAL racing parts.


Racing parts are not an issue this season and, in fact, the racing has developed some amount of parity in this young season. The first race of the season saw a front row filled with two of the eight drivers that were ChampCar Transition rookies to the IRL last season with Graham Rahal in the Newman/Haas/Lanigan, McDonald's sponsored Dallara holding down P1 and Justin Wilson driving for the Sonny's BBQ sponsored Dale Coyne Dallara in P2.

Graham Rahal answers questions from Bill Zahren of Pressdog.com. Now that you are the leader of the team at Newman/Haas/Lanigan .... and, What is the biggest challenge?


Graham Rahal answers questions from Will McCarty of IsitMayYet.com. Growing up, which drivers had an impact on you ... and, What do you expect from your team ... on OVALS?


Graham Rahal answers questions from James Black of 16thandGeorgetown.com. What do you expect out of the month of May this year at the INDY 500 ... and, Is there any added pressure following N/H/L/Racing's legacy of 8 Championships and 100 races won with the like of Tracy, Fittipaldi, Mansell, Mario and Michael Andretti?



The list of questions that did not make the VERSUS Exclusive Blogger Interview cut from "... note from The EDJE" were as follows:

Questions For Graham Rahal – VERSUS Interview 3-24-2009:

The first truly unified test of the new IRL for 2009 was held about a month ago and a couple of questions come to mind:

First off - How did it feel to be at a test where the Dallara and the IndyCar Series team were the only major overriding issues?
----
Robert Doornbos ("Bobby D"), a fellow CCWS competitor, Panoz DP01 pilot, and 2007 Rookie of the Year will be joining Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing for the season this year:

Question Used
- Will he be able to catch on as quickly to the nuances of the Dallara and the competition in the IRL as he did at ChampCar?

What are your general impressions of Robert as a teammate? ... "Bobby D" as competition?
----
Milka Duno is a transferee to NHLR from an "Established" IRL program:

Have you seen any transitional differences between her understanding of CCWS culture and her approach to the IRL way?

What are your general impressions of Milka as a teammate? ... as competition?
----
You have had a very interesting association with open wheel racing and the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team in terms of the international exposure delivered by the teammates you have had to share space with (Bourdais, Doornbos, Duno, and etc.) - How has this effected the way you look at the job of driving competitively, say over other pure American racing teams in the IndyCar Series?
----
It has to feel good to open the 2009 season - First, at a track you became the first ChampCar transition team driver to post a win and personally won your first IRL race - St. Petersburg and second, at a venue you have an intimate knowledge with your shared CCWS experience with the rest of the Transition Team drivers (this includes your teammate "Bobby D") at Long Beach. Looking forward to Long Beach:

Your father, Bobby Rahal, will be honored in the 4th annual installation of the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame along with Al Unser, Jr. - Have you had a chance to talk to your father about his reaction to this event and honor?

How does he feel about being able to catch up and share this event with Al Unser, Jr. and the rest of the Unser family?

What is your personal reflection on the Long Beach Walk Of Fame event?

How do you think the Dallara chassis will perform on its maiden voyage at "The Beach"?

Will the pre-race "walking the track" inspection be any different for driving a Dallara than it would be inspecting the track when driving a Panoz DP01?

The "Established" teams and drivers will be with a car they know but racing at a track they will be seeing for the first time at Long Beach: How great of an advantage will the former CCWS drivers and teams have at Long Beach? Will it be a large advantage or small advantage? Why?
----
Last year, there was a question mark placed on the availability of parts for the IRL Dallara chassis to the teams that were transitioning from the ChampCar World Series in the merger (especially parts related to the performance of the chassis on ovals), do your foresee the shortage of parts as being a potential problem this year?

Question Used (in part) - Correct me if I am wrong - I believe that this is the first time NHLR has fielded three cars for a full season! How will it affect team resources to be a driver racing on a three car team this season? Do you have any concerns?

Good luck and great fortune to you, your father (yes, I know he is a competitor), and the teammates of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

Edmund Jenks
The EDJE (pronounced edge)
http://theedje.blogspot.com/
Feature Page Manager/Editor – Motorsports – NowPublic
http://my.nowpublic.com/tag/Motorsports

The 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is just around the corner and we all in Los Angeles, can not wait to welcome a unified North American Open Wheel Racing championship series to our house!

The history comes full circle with Al Unser, Jr. and Bobby Rahal being inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame, Al Unser, Jr. making apperaences as the Grand Marshal of the event, and eight Transition Players filling the field having a better knowledge of the track than most of the other drivers while Dallaras appear for the first time on the streets of Long Beach and a are able to receive the checkered flag on Shoreline Drive!

... notes from The EDJE