Newman/Haas Working On Two-Car Return In 2013 With its plans for an Indy 500 return with Lotus ambassador and former F1 driver Jean Alesi now sidelined, Newman/Haas Racing General Manager Brian Lisles confirmed that a few aspects of the Lotus-financed program just didn’t meet the championship-winning team’s criteria.
“Unfortunately, we had to withdraw our entry for the Indianapolis 500,” he told SPEED.com. “We weren’t able to get everything done in time for a sensible entry. We didn’t want to do some mad rush at the last moment, and didn’t have everything in place to feel we could do a credible effort, so we withdrew our entry.”
The hiccup with the Lotus/Alesi program won’t impede any of the other plans the team has in the works, including its first foray into sports car racing and an ongoing effort to rejoin the IZOD IndyCar Series.
“We’re looking to hopefully be on track later this year, but that’s not finalized,” Lisles explained. “That’s not in IndyCar. As we said, we won’t be doing IndyCar this year. The only opportunity was the Indy 500 and that’s passed us by. We are already starting on work to hopefully return to IndyCar for 2013, however.”
With little chance to secure a Chevrolet or Honda engine this season, Lisles said gearing up for 2013 is the only practical choice for Newman/Haas.
“I think, not wishing to get ahead of myself, obviously, in talking to sponsors, you can imagine any sponsor that’s going to put any sizeable investment into a team wants [an engine] that’s competitive,” he remarked. “So they’re obviously going to be looking at what’s going on, and some hard choices will be made come October, I imagine.”
Although Newman/Haas Racing won’t be fielding an effort of its own on the IndyCar trail this year, a number of its team members have been dispatched to help other programs, with Dragon Racing as the most visible recipient of NHR’s temporary support.
“We did help out where we could, and yes, we have an agreement and a cut-off point to come back and prepare for Indy,” said Lisles. “Actually, we anticipate our people will be helping one or two of the teams at Indy this month. Then we anticipate if everything goes according to plan, everyone will be back and altogether working on what we’re going to do in June and onwards.”
Lisles reiterated that he’s been trying to keep NHR’s staff current on the new Dallara DW12 chassis and turbocharged engines in service, and cited building Dragon’s pair of Lotus-powered DW12s as an articulated plan to prepare his team for a return to IndyCar competition.
“There were two reasons for us to help out this year,” he said. “The first was it was good to help [Dragon Racing] get going, and the second was it’s good to keep your hand in thing, to get involved and learn the new car. We have the infrastructure here, all the test rigs we need, and so forth. Buying cars and spares is just a matter of writing a check and waiting a few weeks for them to show up.
“Everything has to be done in a sensible fashion, and that’s what we’ve always held our own feet to the fire to only race if things are done properly, and that’s why we didn’t race [in IndyCar] this year. Things weren’t happening at the correct speed. But we’re already making efforts to have a shot at returning next year.” Speedtv.com