View from the Topside
Newman/Haas has good chance to win the Indy 500

   by Rick Benjamin
May 2, 2005

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Plenty to grab our attention in the world of motorsports, as the calendar flips over to May.

The month of May is traditionally one of the most intense in the year, as the focus in open wheel racing moves to Indy. For those of us who look forward to getting Champ Cars back on the track, it should be a most interesting time.

The start of the Indy 500 is always special

The Champ Car World Series banner will be flown high by Newman/Haas at the Speedway this year. While it’s surely true that Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira will face some disadvantage as they’re not as familiar with IRL equipment as the teams they’ll be facing, you can bet that won’t keep them from being more than competitive.

I’ve become a believer in their amazing capabilities these past two seasons, both behind the wheel and in the paddock. Bruno has excelled at the Speedway in his two previous appearances, and Bourdais has shown repeatedly he’s at his best adapting to unfamiliar situations. His recent IROC win is Platinum-card proof of that.

Newman/Haas will enjoy the benefits of Honda power, and plenty of folks within the Newman/Haas brain trust have considerable experience at Indy, one track where experience is a key. They’ll also be working with essentially the same tire company if not the same tire, when they bolt Firestone-labeled rubber on their Panoz chassis.

The ability to get the most out of tire combinations is also critical to Speedway success. But the trump card for Newman/Haas will be the presumed advantage in their damper program….managed by the peerless Multimatic engineering group from Canada. Most in the Champ Car paddock believe the Multimatic shock package the Newman/Haas cars carry is largely responsible for their performance advantage in Champ Car.  If Multimatic can bring a similar advantage to the Speedway, I believe the team has a real chance to carry the Borg-Warner trophy home in a couple of weeks.

Surely it’ll be a busy month for Newman/Haas, who’ll need to practice and qualify solidly at Indy before loading the transporters for the trip to Monterrey, Mexico on the 22nd. They may actually get some pre-Indy help by going to the Champ Car open test this week at Milwaukee.

But don’t be surprised at all if this month of May translates into a month of money…big money…for Newman/Haas, Sebastien Bourdais, and Bruno Junqueira.

The author can be contacted at feedback@autoracing1.com

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