Newman/Haas Racing – 29th Season Pre-Race Notes
Milwaukee 225 – The Legendary Milwaukee Mile
Milwaukee 225 –FAST FACTS
Round 7 of 17 in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series
DATE: Friday – Saturday, June 17-19, 2011
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live Timing & Scoring on www.indycar.com from 5:45 – 6:45 p.m. ET
RACE BROADCAST: Live on Sunday on ABC at 3:30 pm. ET
RADIO BROADCAST: The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM 94 and Sirius 212
INTERNET BROADCAST: Timing & Scoring of each practice session and qualifying is offered on www.indycar.com
TRACK LAYOUT: 1-mile oval
RACE LENGTH: 225 laps / 225 miles
2009 WINNER: Scott Dixon
2009 POLESITTER: Ryan Briscoe
NHR EVENTS HERE: 26 (1983-2006, 2008-2009)
NHR WINS HERE: 7 (Bourdais – 2006; Mi. Andretti 1996, 1992, 1991; Tracy 1995; Mansell 1993; Ma Andretti 1985)
NHR POLES HERE: 2 (Bourdais – 2006; Ma. Andretti 1985)
NHR PODIUMS HERE: 13 (2nd – Mi. Andretti 2000, 1997, 1989; 3rd –Servia 2005, Mi. Andretti 1995, Ma Andretti 1991).
NEWS & NOTES
27TH RACE AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE FOR NEWMAN/HAAS RACING
The 2011 event at the Milwaukee Mile will mark the 27th time for Newman/Haas Racing to compete here in their 29th season. Due to the track being located only one hour from the Lincolnshire, Ill.-based race shop, in addition to team co-owner, Carl Haas' role as the promoter of racing events here from 1992 to 2003, the event has long been considered the team's home race.
In their 26 previous events here NHR has won seven races (Sebastien Bourdais – 2006; Michael Andretti 1996, 1992, 1991; Paul Tracy 1995; Nigel Mansell 1993; Mario Andretti 1985) and TWO poles (Bourdais – 2006; Ma. Andretti 1985) as well as a total of 13 podium finishes (2nd – Mi. Andretti 2000, 1997, 1989; 3rd – Oriol Servia 2005, Mi. Andretti 1995, Ma. Andretti 1991. NHR and Team Penske are tied for the most wins at Milwaukee – with seven each.
Telemundo driver Oriol Servia returns to the site of his first race with NHR in 2005 and will compete in his eighth event at the Milwaukee Mile while Sprott driver James Hinchcliffe will compete in his first IndyCar Series event here and second overall at the track after having competed in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights race here.
ORIOL AND JAMES ON EARNING A GOOD FINISH FOR THE TEAM AT HOME
"We have been getting closer to that dream win," said Servia. "It would be really big for the Telemundo team and myself. It is our home race; a lot of team members either live close by or are bringing their families. It was here that I first shared a podium with Carl and his cigar and it would be a great podium to bring them the first win of the season."
"We try hard to bring home good finishes in every race," added Hinchcliffe. "But with this being the teams home event, we know that there will be more people pulling for us and we definitely want to give them a result to be proud of. Like I said, we try hard in every race and the pressure of the home race doesn't change that but I think if we pull off a good result it will mean a little more when it's all said and done."
QUALIFIED SECOND FOR THE TWO PREVIOUS EVENTS HERE
In the two previous races at the Milwaukee Mile in 2008 and 2009, NHR qualified second. A race was not held here in 2010. Team driver Graham Rahal missed pole by 2/10ths of a second over a four lap average and started second in 2008. He made contact on Lap 130/225 after he ran high to pass a slower car. Justin Wilson qualified 22nd and finished seventh for the team in 2008. He was about to make a stop when Rahal bought out the caution and closed the pits. He had to charge from the back of field twice. In 2009 Rahal again qualified second and briefly took the lead at the start but dropped to third by the end of the lap and ultimately finished fourth, his highest finish on an oval at the time. Robert Doornbos qualified 12th and finished 15th in what was his third oval race.
PREVIOUS WIN ON AN OVAL
When the team won at The Milwaukee Mile in 2006, there were only one-to-two oval races per season during that era of Champ Car. It was their 94th overall (of 107 to date) and then-driver Sebastien Bourdais called it the most memorable achievement of his championship-winning season. Bourdais brought team it's first pole at their "home event" on the Milwaukee oval in 2006 in 21 years (1985) as well as their first win in 10 years after coming back from a Lap 20/197 punctured tire that put him one lap down. Since then they have earned 13 more for a total of 107 with those wins having come on road and street courses which made up the majority of the Champ Car series. When the team joined the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2008, there was a mostly-equal mix of ovals and road/street races but the team's two wins since joining the series have come on street courses (Rahal, St. Pete; Wilson, Detroit – both in 2008).
ORIOL RECALS HIS "DEAL-MAKING" AND FIRST RACE WITH NHR AT MILWAUKEE IN 2005
Servia's first race for NHR was at the Milwaukee Mile in 2005 as the replacement for Bruno Junqueira, who suffered a season-ending injury at the Indy 500 the previous weekend. His eventual third place finish solidified his position with the team and he went on to earn one win, seven podiums and one pole in the final 11 races (of 13) with NHR that season
"Well I could tell right away that I was up for something special that would end up being very important for my life," said Servia of the opportunity. "I flew to meet with Carl Haas after he called me asking me if I would be interested in driving for them for Milwaukee. I had heard many stories from my friends (Cristiano) da Matta, (Bruno) Junqueira and (Christian) Fittipaldi on how genuine and original Carl conducted this sort of meeting. I went without my manager as I wanted a full one-on-one experience. It was not disappointing; it was really entertaining, to the point, honest and passionate. I had my first class on wise deal making. I got up smiling, not totally sure if I had agreed but excited to start getting my seat done. I think he was smiling even more than me and that worried me. I walked through the team cafeteria and I saw seven lithographs of Salvador Dali, whose paintings I have always referenced on my helmet! What were the chances...? It was a clear sign. We went to Milwaukee and finished on the podium. From that point on, many more smiles have come every time we are together. It just feels right. My relationship with the whole team has always had some real transparency – something hard to find now a days and, is for sure part of our success."
ORIOL ON HIS BEST SHORT OVAL RACE EVER IN THE 2008 INDY CAR EVENT
Servia will compete in eighth race here. In seven events, he has three top-five finishes including second (2003 w/Patrick), third (2005 w/NHR) and fifth (2006 w/PKV). He has finished in the top-10, five of his seven races here and started in the top-10 four times. His highest start is seventh (2003, 2006) and his highest finish is second (2003). He recalls some great racing at this track.
"In 2003, I had a great battle with (Michel) Jourdain and (Paul) Tracy – many, many side-by-side laps with PT -- and I ended up second behind Michel. In 2005 it was also great with Newman/Haas as we started ninth with only one practice before qualifying and finished third. But I think 2008 has to be one of my best short oval races ever. I broke my front wing at the start and had to come into the pits to change it and got lapped in the process but on the restart I passed the leader to unlap myself and basically stayed in front of him the whole race passing car by car to finish sixth, still on the lead lap. It was very exciting."
JAMES ON HIS EXPERIENCE AT THE MILE AND WHY IT'S A DRIVERS FAVORITE
The race will mark Hinchcliffe's first in an IndyCar at the Milwaukee Mile and second at this track. "In 2009 I raced at the Milwaukee Mile in the Indy Lights series," Hinchcliffe said of his tenth place start and seventh place finish in his rookie season in the series. "That was my first time on the track and I really enjoyed it. It is a favorite among the drivers because it's so unique as a short, flat track."
JAMES ON HIS IMPRESSION OF PREVIOUS CHAMP AND INDY CAR RACES AT THE MILE
"The racing is really intense! There is always something going on because the track is so short that you are always in traffic -- either with guys you are racing or lapped traffic. I think it is another exercise in patience, but at least there seems to be two good grooves so you can for sure get some good racing. It's a special race for the team since it's now the closest event to their home in Lincolnshire. I know that they have had some good cars here in the past few years, and Oriol had a good test last week so it really is just up to me to make the most out of what we have!"
ORIOL AND JAMES ON THE CHALLENGES OF RACING AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE
"Short ovals have a lot of challenges," said Servia. "You are asking a lot from the Firestone tires and car setup as you are getting to the corners at really high speeds and the little banking offers little help to keep the car on track. It is a great challenge for the engineers and a lot of work for the drivers. It takes a lot of 'commitment' to enter those corners that fast. If it is already fun to drive around it alone imagine when you put 30 cars around you; it gets really busy and creates great racing!"
"The biggest difference from this track is how flat the banking is," added Hinchcliffe. "This means that we can't run flat out, even by ourselves, so it puts a big emphasis on setup. It also makes the racing a lot of fun because you are really pushing the limits in a different way. It's almost like a road course with two really fast corners! At a place like this, if the car is good you are going to really enjoy yourself. If the car isn't great, you have to work on it at every stop or it's going to be a long afternoon!"
ORIOL ON THE TEST AT MILWAUKEE TWO WEEKS AGO
"Although we both – the team and I -- have had success at this track before, it was huge to go to the test. Apart from Indy, we had not had any oval testing this year and there were lots of items that we needed to evaluate. I believe we found some things that are going to help us a lot at all the short ovals. If you don't test, there is no chance for you to catch up to the guys that are already testing and winning."
JAMES ON THE ADDITIONAL CHALLENGE OF NOT HAVING TESTED AT MILWAUKEE
The majority of drivers tested at the Milwaukee Mile on June 1 or June 3. Hinchcliffe was scheduled to test on Friday, June 3 with Servia but the team switched their focus to repairing his race car from the Indy 500 crash in time to depart for the Texas race the following Tuesday. "For sure the fact that we didn't get to test doesn't help. It's not like one or two guys tested; nearly the whole field did! But it's the hand we've been dealt and we will deal with it accordingly. Luckily Oriol had a very productive test and at least I have been there in another car so we will just take what he liked at the test and go from there."
ORIOL ON THE TEAM'S FIRST "CHALLENGING WEEKEND" OF THE SEASON IN TEXAS AND REBOUNDING
"We expected the 1.5 mile ovals to be a bit more challenging than the others but not to that degree. We may be paying for some lack of development in the cars over the winter but I would bet that we will be a lot more competitive at the next one! The team will work extra hard to improve for that."
ORIOL AND JAMES ON EXPECTATIONS FOR THE RACE AT MILWAUKEE
"We had a good test," said Servia. "I would expect us to be back in the top five although we know how competitive the field is and at such short oval, you need to get everything right to be up front. We are not over confident at all, especially after Texas, but we know that if we make the right decisions over the weekend, we should be contending."
"Based on the test the team did last week, I am confident that the car will be decent," said Hinchcliffe. "Obviously, from my point of view, being a rookie and not getting to test means that I have to be realistic about the weekend goals. We want to be competitive. I think there is a chance I might be a little behind in qualifying here just due to experience, but if we have a good race car, and I think we will, then I think we can have a solid result on Sunday."
JAMES ON PROGRESSION FROM 2.5 TO 1.5 TO 1 MILE OVALS AND SURPRISES ALONG THE WAY
"It has been definitely a lot of surprises, but more than anything just a lot of great learning experiences. I don't think that the trend of progressively shorter tracks really has any impact, but there is something that you can take from any one of those races and apply to the next. That's the important thing for me right now, logging laps and learning as much as possible."
JAMES ON THE SIMILARITIES OR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HIS PREFERRED SETUP AND ORIOL'S
"Oriol and I have been pretty close on setup which is good. Texas was probably the furthest we went from each other on setup and obviously that wasn't our most competitive outing so hopefully we can go back to a more competitive platform and help push each other to find the best setup."
NHR ON OVALS
Since being formed by Carl Haas and Paul Newman in the fall of 1982, the team has earned a total of 107 wins and 109 pole positions. Twenty-seven of their 107 wins and 19 of their 109 poles came on ovals. The team's previous win on an oval was by Sebastien Bourdais in the Milwaukee Champ Car race in June 2006 and their previous oval pole was by Graham Rahal at Kansas in April 2009.