Graham Rahal and James Jakes -- Iowa Corn Indy 250 Pre-Race Notes/Quotes
Story posted - Jun 19 2013 9:52 PM
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Iowa Corn Indy 250 - Iowa Speedway
Round 10 of 19 in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series
NEWS & NOTES:
DATE: June 22-23, 2013
QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Heat races will be broadcast live at 6:45-8:15 ET on www.indycar.com (streaming video and timing & scoring information with IMS Radio Network commentary)
RACE BROADCAST: Live on Sunday, June 23 at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC
RADIO BROADCAST: The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM & Sirius channels 211
TRACK LAYOUT: 0.875-mile oval
RACE LENGTH: 250 laps / 218.75 miles
2012 WINNER: Ryan Hunter-Reay
2012 POLESITTER: Dario Franchitti (won Heat Race 3)
RAHAL'S BEST OVAL START/FINISH: Pole (Kansas 2009) / 2nd (Texas 2012 and Milwaukee 2011)
RAHAL'S BEST START/ FINISH AT IOWA: 9th in 2009 / 9th in 2010 and 2012
JAKES' BEST OVAL START/FINISH: 10th (Texas 2013) / 10th (Texas 2012)
JAKES' BEST START/ FINISH AT IOWA: 21st / 13th - both in 2012
RLL'S TOP START/ FINISH AT IOWA: 4th / 3rd - both in 2007 by Scott Sharp
NEWS & NOTES:
ONE PODIUM AND TWO TOP-10'S IN THREE EVENTS AT IOWA SPEEDWAY FOR RLL RACING
The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will mark the fourth event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at Iowa Speedway. The best finish for the team is third in 2007 by Scott Sharp who also earned the top start for the team of fourth the same year. The team also has two top-10 finishes at the track. Prior to the 2013 event, the team prepared a total of four entries for drivers Scott Sharp (2007), Jeff Simmons (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008) and Takuma Sato (2012). Last year Sato finished 12th after starting 23rd. 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 six in 2013.
GRAHAM ON IOWA SPEEDWAY - ONE OF THE MOST DEMANDING RACES OF THE YEAR
The 2013 Iowa Corn Indy 250 will mark Graham's sixth race here. He has earned three top-10 finishes in five starts with his best being ninth (2010, 2012). In 2012 he qualified 10th, started 20th (penalty for unapproved engine change) and finished 9th with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). In 2011 he qualified 20th and finished 15th with SCCGR. In 2010, he qualified 17th with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, led 11 laps and finished 9th. In 2009 he qualified 9th and finished 11th with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) and in 2008 he qualified 16th and finished 10th with NHLR.
"It's becoming increasingly difficult because as the track ages it has become very bumpy, and over time has lost grip. Combined with the fact INDYCAR has removed downforce in recent years, its difficult to find a good balance. The track is very fast, and very heavily loaded. Physically it can be one of the most demanding races of the year. I have been so-so at Iowa. We have run up front at times, and I have certainly had my fair share of struggles. I remain hopeful that we will continue to build as a team and have success this weekend. It will be challenging, but I think we are up to it."
JAKES AT IOWA - LED HIS FIRST SERIES LAP THERE LAST YEAR
The 2013 Iowa Corn Indy 250 will be the third event at Iowa Speedway for James Jakes, 25. He qualified 21st in 2012 and started 18th after others served engine penalties and finished 13th after he led one lap. In 2011, he qualified 24th but retired in 25th after contact - both years with Dale Coyne Racing. He led his first series lap at Iowa last year and added to that this year by leading five at the Indy 500 and four in Dual 2 in Detroit en route to a second place finish.
"Iowa is a very challenging track. It's short and you never really get a chance for a break over the lap. There is a pretty big bump in between turns 1 and 2, so you really need the car to work well over there especially in the race when you have a heavy fuel load. When the car is working well, Iowa can be a really fun track to drive. Last year we were pretty competitive. I actually made a mistake behind the safety car while leading and that led to a drive through. This year I'm pretty sure we will have a competitive car so I am really looking forward to going back there."
RETURN OF HEAT RACES TO SET THE STARTING GRID AT IOWA
The field for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 will be set through three 50-lap heat races held on June 22 at Iowa Speedway. Heat Race fields will be determined by single-car, single-lap qualifying. Race 1 will consist of the even-numbered positions, starting with position 8 from single-car qualifying. The results of Race 1 shall determine the even-numbered positions in the starting field, starting with position 12. The top two finishers will transfer to Race 3 and start in positions 8 and 10. Race 2 will consist of the odd-numbered positions, starting with position 7 from single-car qualifying. The results of Race 2 shall determine the odd-numbered positions in the starting field, starting with position 11. The top two finishers will transfer to Race 3 and start in positions 7 and 9. Race 3 will consist of positions 1 through 6 from single-car qualifying plus the first- and second-place finishers from Races 1 and 2 to determine the Verizon P1 Award and the first five rows of the starting grid. The format will reward 12 starters with points - from nine points for the pole winner and descending by one point each position to one point for 11th and 12th.
RAHAL ON HEAT RACING - AND WINNING HIS HEAT LAST YEAR
"Its always good to have a bit of time in a race setting before the main event on Sunday, however I would happily take another longer practice session at this point as we have been working hard to improve our cars," said Rahal. "It will be a challenge, but again I am looking forward to it as I won my heat last year and hope we can do the same again this year."
JAKES ON HIS EXPECTATIONS FOR IOWA
Jakes earned his best oval start to date of 10th place in qualifying at Texas this season. Texas Motor Speedway is also the site of his best oval finish (10th in 2012) and he looked likely to top that while running fourth there this year before he had to pit for fuel with 16 laps to go. He has been competitive over the two-month stretch and hopes Iowa Speedway will become the location of his best oval finish - if not best overall series finish. He finished second in Dual 2 on the streets of Detroit three races ago.
"I think we have a great chance this weekend to get my best oval finish. Last weekend wasn't really a true representation of where we are competitively but the weekend before in Texas we were very strong."
RAHAL AND JAKES ON THE BUSY SCHEDULE
The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will mark the eighth consecutive weekend of action and the ninth of the past 10 weeks for the IZOD IndyCar Series. Both drivers know that a good result at Iowa Speedway would
"It's been incredibly tough on our guys," said Rahal. "I personally feel it hasn't been bad on me, I enjoy racing on back to back occasions, but on the team members and their families this is brutal."
"It has been a very challenging stretch for everyone, not just the drivers, but also the engineers, mechanics, everyone on the team," added Jakes. "This road trip started back in Brazil on May 1 so it has been a very busy stretch and I'm sure everyone is looking forward to a weekend off after Iowa."
RAHAL AND JAKES ON KEEPING MOTIVATION AT ITS PEAK DURING THE BUSY SCHEDULE
"A driver is the leader of the team," said Rahal. "It is on me to keep my guys excited and enthusiastic about going racing each and every weekend. I have been very proud that even through our struggles my guys have kept their chins up and we continue to work well together."
"Well I think if a driver is peaking at the right time, this stretch comes perfectly for them. There are so many races packed into a short space of time, that if a driver is peaking at the right time it is a great chance for him to get some solid points and move up in the driver's championship."
RAHAL AND JAKES ON THE UPCOMING TEST AT POCONO INSTEAD OF MID-OHIO NEXT TUESDAY
Most IndyCar Series teams had planned a test day at either Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course or Pocono Raceway on Tuesday, June 25. RLL was initially scheduled to test at Mid-Ohio but rescheduled for Pocono in order to work on their oval setup. Both drivers are looking forward to driving on the "Tricky Triangle" oval track for the first time.
"Pocono is our next big challenge, we need to turn our attention to that and try and be as fast as we can there," said Rahal. "That's the goal right now."
"Testing is great," added Jakes. "The more testing you can do, the better it is going to be for everyone on the team. I think it was a good switch to change from Mid Ohio to Pocono as we only have one test there before the race, and having never been there before it could take a little bit of learning. Also if the pre race test is rained out then it could have been very difficult so for me it was a good decision."