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Rank Driver Points
1 Will Power 671
2 Helio Castroneves 609
3 Scott Dixon 604
4 Juan Pablo Montoya 586
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18 Takuma Sato 350
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20 Carlos Huertas 314
21 Sebastian Saavedra 291
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25 Kurt Busch 80
26 J.R. Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam 57
28 Luca Filippi 46
29 James Davison 34
30 Jacques Villeneuve 29
31 Alex Tagliani 28
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8
Graham Rahal on the new IndyCar and racing in Texas

Texas Motor Speedway media day
Wednesday, March 07, 2012

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Graham Rahal
Q: About the new INDYCAR chassis...

A: It's a good chassis. I think that when the car first came out there were a lot of people thinking 'Is it that good? Is it a lemon?' and they were a little worried about it, but it's a really good car. The street course/road course performance is very impressive and the oval car is good. They tested here not too long ago and the speeds were very similar to what we ran before, which I think says a lot because it's the first time it's really been run on a superspeedway. So we've got a long way to go, but it has a lot of potential. The first teams that got there, their cars only took delivery on December 13, so we've had very little time. But then my car - I finally got a spare a week ago. So we've had one car that was delivered January 15 and we were on-track at the end of January and off we went. Technology-wise it's a step forward. Braking-wise - the brakes on this car are phenomenal. It's got a carbon fiber brake system on it which is more like a Formula 1 car. It's incredible the way it stops and I think it's got a lot of potential. It's still new. We've got a long way to go with it, but it's good so far.

Q: Speeds in the new chassis compared to the old chassis...

A:
That's a hard thing to tell. It's got to be in the 220s. Do I think it will be 227 or whatever it was last year? No. But again, that last car lasted since 2003 so that thing was so polished. It was perfect. When you'd go out there, there was barely an ounce of drag. When we'd go into the wind tunnel, it'd be hard to find a single pound of drag. I mean you couldn't find anything anymore because of how developed it was. In this car, there's a lot to be found.  Ten pounds of drag is one mile per hour in our car, so I bet you there's a few 100 pounds of drag to be found yet and we've got to figure that out.

Q: About recent rumors of drivers boycotting Texas...

A
: I saw the quotes, but we never discussed it. One thing that we really try to strengthen as an INDYCAR community since Dan's death, but it actually started around Mid Ohio last year, we got together as drivers and said 'Ok. We've got a lot of issues here and we've got to stand up and do some things.' But in the driver's association that has never been discussed once. I think there's been a lot made of something and if they had called anybody else to see if it was true, everybody else would have said no. Now the questions that have been asked about fencing and things like this... I'll be the first to tell you that Indy-car racing has been the most innovative motorsport ever. The SAFER barrier came from us. In fact it was funded by the Hulman-George family, which not a lot of people know. The HANS device was something that was developed by Jim Downing who was involved with INDYCAR at the time. The thing we've been pushing for as drivers is that we've stopped innovating a little bit and we have got to find a way to develop the next thing. The obvious thing is fencing and it doesn't just help us. The NASCAR guys were talking a lot about how great the SAFER barrier was with Danica's hit at Daytona. Those things are becoming more and more apparent today. But the fence is the next obvious thing to find. How can we make a fence that doesn't hurt the fans' view? That doesn't have seams? Because obviously what killed Dan was the hit on the head from a pole. How do we find a way to change that? And at the end of the day whether the fence is in front of the pole or behind the pole, sadly the result probably would have been the same in that case. We've got to find a way to make it better. Obviously I'm not smart enough to figure that out, but is it a Plexiglass sort of thing like an NHL arena? I don't know, but at the end of the day whatever it is and what it becomes is not just going to help us, it's going to help everybody around the world and it's going to help the fans be safer. That's what's been discussed. The show we've put on the last few years here has been second to none and I continue to say that we'll be back here and we'll put on a good show again.

Q: About racing at Texas...

A:
Texas has always put on extremely close races. Does that make a driver more nervous? Yeah, but it would make anybody more nervous. We realize that our sport is two things - to go fast and race cars, and it's also entertainment. The fans like to see close racing and sadly the fans like to see incidents sometimes, but of course no one ever wants to see something like what happened. I think everybody will come here. We're going to put on a great show. We're going to find a way to be here for many years to come. Let's be honest; it's a huge market - the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The facilities they have here are tremendous and we want to be here.

Q: How the new chassis has enhanced safety in the sport...

A:
Indy-car racing is clearly more dangerous than any other form of motorsports. Even Formula 1. Formula 1 is open wheel, but they don't race ovals. But I think that adds something to our sport. It's kind of unique. Certainly for the drivers, it's something you think about. Like I said, this car is safer than the last one and I hope in five years when there's going to be a new car that it will be safer than this one. We've just got to develop that over time, but if these cars become airborne there's nothing you can do. If that incident would have happened with Dan 20 years ago, it would have killed four guys and maybe more, because a lot of cars got airborne. The cars have come a long way. Justin Wilson at Mid Ohio last year broke his back just hitting straight down. That's because we sit on the tub. You might as well just sit on your tailbone and drop to the ground at 60 Gs, which is what he hit with. But now we have foam inserts that go underneath us and foam inserts that go behind us. The safety of this car is miles better and I think it's going to continue to go that way. But, like I said, as a core group of drivers we just want to develop whatever the next thing is and we want to make sure that the group that comes after us can be safer and prevent as many deaths and injuries as possible.

Q: Racing on ovals vs. street and road courses...

A:
I think we're going to get back to more ovals. But the thing is, I mean at Baltimore last year we had 150,000 people show up over a couple of days. That's huge. If you look at Long Beach; Long Beach is like that. Street courses have been very successful for us and for our sponsors. They love going there because they can entertain and they're right there with the people. They can stay at the hotel and walk across the street to the track. That's very successful. But Indy-car racing in its core was built on the fact that they were the only drivers that did everything. You race on a street course which is different than a road course, which is different than a short oval; and a superspeedway and that's different from Indy. So you have everything. But we need the race on ovals. The fans at Indianapolis live to hear 230, 229, 231 mph. They love the big numbers and that's what separates our sport from pretty much any other form of motorsports. We've got to race on ovals. It's what differentiates our sport from Formula 1. I think that we'll get back to that. I hope the series will add more races in the future. I think 20 or 21 races is a good number and I think you've got to have the ovals and all the different types. I'm looking forward to this year quite a lot though. While we don't race on too many superspeedways/mile-and-a-half tracks, but we race on a couple of short ovals that are completely different from one another.

Q: How Danica Patrick's career move to NASCAR will affect the sport...

A:
It's a loss of a person, but the thing is there's a lot of personalities in this sport that haven't been able to be seen because of that. Whether it be myself or Ryan Hunter-Reay, who's an American, who's very talented or James Hinchcliffe who drives for GoDaddy now. You'll see him more. He's got a lot of personality. Almost too much personality and I tell him that all the time, but you've got all these guys who the common person says, 'Oh I've never heard of them.' Well there's one reason. It's because they haven't been seen. I think it's a great thing for us to be able to get back to developing different personalities and people who are better drivers that can perform and win races. Ultimately it will be just fine. Danica is a loss. That's no doubt. Danica was like a sister to me for many years. My dad was the one who found her when her racing career was basically dead. My dad (Bobby Rahal) gave her a chance and helped pay for her career, and get her into Indy cars. I was very close to her for many, many years, but I think it's a very good thing and I think my dad made very similar comments at the time because he said, 'Ok, this is good, because we can get back to being a race team rather than PR team all the time.' I think we'll put on a great show. People should realize we've got female drivers like Simona de Silvestro who are damn good. She drives for Lotus this year, which will be interesting to see how Lotus shapes up compared to Chevy and Honda, but without a doubt she can drive. If they want to be a female fan, they can go with her or Katherine (Legge). There's a whole list of them. I really hope that we can develop other personalities in this sport because there's a lot of them and they deserve a shot.

Q: On Rubens Barrichello's move to INDYCAR...

A:
Rubens has almost a couple of million followers on Twitter. That's far more than any racing person in this country. In a worldwide basis he is so well known and he is so talented, and so well respected. He is a huge addition to our series. He's going to find how different ovals are, but I think he's going to enjoy it. He's already saying that he really enjoys racing and testing with us because it's more relaxed and more of a fun environment. I couldn't be happier. He's a fantastic guy and I think he will be a huge bonus for our series. I cannot wait to go race in Brazil just to see how big of a crowd we get. He's a hero down there. But if you talk Formula 1 to a Formula 1 fan down here, they'd instantly know who he is, so now they connect. This should be fun. We've got more cars this year than last year on a full-time basis, which is a complete shock with new cars and new engines. A lot of people thought there would be a lot of teams that wouldn't show up, but it's going to be a full house and I'm really excited to get going here in a couple of weeks.

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