IndyCar Team Phoenix Previews

AJ Foyt Racing

Sato
Sato

TAKUMA SATO ON:

  • The return of INDYCAR to Phoenix Int’l Raceway: “I’ve never been to Phoenix but I’ve seen some exciting races so it’s great to have this venue back in the series."
  • His first impression of PIR: “Very fast! It’s well-known that this track is unique as it has different banking for each corner–very impressive. The track has such a high level of grip and the cornering speed is incredibly fast, so the sensation of turning into Turn 1 is quite amazing. I also felt we received such a warm welcome from the fans. They came to see us at the Open Test Day and they were very enthusiastic. I thought it was very nice atmosphere."
  • The trickiest part of the track: “As it has different banking and different kinds of corners, there is a balance shift between them which makes car setup tricky to have it right for both ends of the track. Also I found it quite tricky to follow the cars and there are not many lines available, i.e. it’s pretty much a single racing line, so I think it will be very difficult to go two-wide and overtaking will be tough."
  • The secret to getting around at PIR: “We must minimize the balance shift between the corners. Also, you will lose significant downforce when following a car but you cannot really choose different lines for finding clean air, so it’s crucial to have a good mechanical grip and be strong in traffic."
  • Whether PIR is more physically or mentally demanding: “I think it’s both. It’s definitely one of the most physically demanding tracks as we pulled close to 5Gs and it was pretty tough over the long runs in testing. Because of that, it’s mentally demanding too. Also the line is very limited so you need to be focused a lot. It’s less than 20sec a lap, so there is no relax time at all for the whole race!"
  • Visiting PIR before test: “The test was my first time to Phoenix."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]JACK HAWKSWORTH ON:

  • Hawksworth
    Hawksworth

    The return of INDYCAR to Phoenix Int’l Raceway: From what I understand, it is a circuit that has a huge open wheel history and has produced some great races in the past. It's always good to visit tracks that are steeped in history as it gives the place a certain aura. Judging by the turnout at the pre-season test, we should get a good crowd and it seems like the fans are looking forward to INDYCAR’s return.

  • His first impression of the track: “Short and quick spring to mind, it kind of reminded me of a mini Pocono with the banked Turn 1 and the long duration flat Turn 3. It is good fun to drive but how it will race in terms of overtaking and passing opportunities is a question mark. Hopefully we put on a good show!"
  • The trickiest part of the track: “Turn 1 is the trickiest corner and also presents the best passing opportunity during the race. Look for most of the action to happen down at this end of the circuit."
  • The secret to getting around PIR: “A good balance at both ends of the circuit and a predictable car in traffic. The lap is so short that there will be very little single car running during the race. Being quick in traffic will be critical."
  • Whether PIR is more physically or mentally demanding: “Like most ovals, it is more mentally demanding than anything else. G-loads are quite high but the drivers can rest their heads on the pads inside the cockpit so physically this isn't an issue. Mental concentration will be critical though and staying alert and on top of the car for 250 laps with 22 cars out there will make a big difference."
  • Visiting Phoenix before the test: “I tested at the Firebird road course during my year in Pro Mazda back in 2012 so I stayed in Phoenix then. I do like Arizona, the weather’s good and the dry heat is nice."

A.J. Foyt will participate in the unveiling of the A.J. Foyt Trophy on Wednesday, March 30th at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The perpetual trophy will be presented to the PIR race winner each year. A.J. Foyt won four races at PIR: 1964 (the inaugural race), 1965, 1971, and 1975; he won a pole in 1965. He also won a race in 1960 at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, a one mile dirt track in Phoenix.

Team’s past performance at PIR (since 1996): The team’s best finish was second which is where they finished in 1996 with Scott Sharp and again in 2001 with Eliseo Salazar. Their best start was also second in 1998 with Billy Boat. Neither Takuma Sato nor Jack Hawksworth has raced at PIR.

Last race: In St. Petersburg, Takuma Sato started 10th and finished sixth while Jack Hawksworth started ninth and finished 11th, which is where they currently rank in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings.

ABC Supply Co. is in its 12th season as marketing partner of AJ Foyt Racing: ABC Supply began sponsoring the AJ Foyt Racing team with the 2005 Indianapolis 500, and is the second longest active team sponsor in the Verizon IndyCar Series. With this season, the company ties U.S. Tobacco’s Copenhagen brand in length of sponsorship of Foyt’s team. ABC Supply has leveraged its involvement by sponsoring races at Milwaukee, and now at Pocono with the ABC Supply 500. The company has entertained over 75,000 associates and customers during the past 11 racing seasons. At Phoenix, the company will entertain 620 guests.

ABC Supply national account Restoration Specialties, LLC will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda. Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with Takuma Sato.

ABC Supply roofing customer America Roofing, with offices in Phoenix, won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda. Guests will receive the VIP treatment plus a Meet and Greet with Jack Hawksworth.

The Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix will be televised live on NBC Sports Network Saturday, April 2 starting at 8:00pm ET.

Rahal
Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Pre-Race Notes

Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix – Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Arizona

Round 2 of 16 in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series

DATE: Friday – Saturday, April 1-2, 2016

PRACTICE BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN at 1:00 p.m. ET on Friday, April 1

QUALIFYING BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN at 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, April 1. Live on the INDYCAR Radio Network and

www.indycar.com (timing & scoring + commentating)

RACE BROADCAST: Live on NBCSN, Saturday, April 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET

RADIO BROADCAST: The race will air on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM 209 and

www.indycar.com

TRACK LAYOUT: 1.022-mile oval

RACE LENGTH: 250 laps / 255.5 miles

RLLR TOP START/

FINISH AT PHOENIX: 2nd by Bobby Rahal in 1992 / 1st by Bobby Rahal in 1992 (led all 200); will be 8th event for team

and first since 2005 here

G. RAHAL’S BEST START/

FINISH IN PHOENIX: First race here

RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES

START/FINISH: Pole at St. Pete (street) 2009 & Kansas (oval) 2009 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008 (street), Fontana 2015

(oval), Mid-Ohio 2015 (road).

NEWS & NOTES

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The 2016 Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) will mark the eighth Indy car race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), first since 2005 and first for Graham Rahal. In only the second race for the team, then named Rahal Hogan Racing, Bobby Rahal led all 200 laps en route to victory with a margin of 22.35-seconds over Eddie Cheever and third place Emerson Fittipaldi in 1992. Over the years, the team has prepared a total of 11 cars for races at PIR: Bobby Rahal (1992-1995), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Kenny Brack (2003), Buddy Rice (2004-2005), Vitor Meira (2005) and Danica Patrick (2005). A list of results is available upon request.

GRAHAM ON THE RETURN OF INDYCAR RACING TO PHOENIX & PODIUM APPEARANCE AT AGE THREE

Although it will be Graham’s first race at Phoenix, he has stood on the podium here. In 1992, at three years of age, he joined his father Bobby Rahal on the podium after his commanding win in the second race for Rahal Hogan Racing. (Photo available upon request.) After winning in Phoenix, Bobby went on to clinch the championship with four wins, three poles and 10 podium finishes in 16 races. Graham is hoping to bring the team another victory at PIR in the team’s 25th season. Perhaps his father will join him on the podium this time.

“Exciting is the word that comes to mind when I think about Indy cars returning to Phoenix. To go back there where Indy car racing has such a storied past is cool. It's also cool as my dad won here before, and dominated in 1992 to score the team’s first win. I think we can make a great run of it and hopefully get Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing another victory in the dessert."

GRAHAM ON THE CHALLENGES OF RACING AT PIR

Only four drivers in the 22-car field have raced at PIR before: Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan. The race is the first of five ovals races on the schedule and Rahal knows it could be one of the most challenging of the year.

“The dusk or when the sun begins to go down behind the stands in Turn 1 will be very tricky, for sure. Getting the right visor darkness on for the race will be key. Physically this will be the most demanding race of the year, I believe, so it's important to make sure I am hydrated and ready for a lot of G-forces and laps. It's going to be a very difficult race in many ways. "

GRAHAM ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PHOENIX RACE AFTER A DISAPPOINTING FINISH IN ST. PETE

At the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Rahal started sixth and hoped to pick up where he left off after a competitive 2015 season that saw his earn a series-high six podium finishes. He was in eighth place after a mid-race return to green conditions, but sixth on the same fuel strategy, when Carlos Munoz dove into Turn 4 and hit him from behind which set off a pileup of more than eight cars that blocked the turn. Once he was restarted, he had to pit for a new front and rear wing and dropped to 21st. Munoz was later penalized for “avoidable contact " and Rahal ultimately finished a disappointing 16th. He hopes to rebound at Phoenix and kick start his season.

“This race is huge. I honestly feel like this race could shape our entire season. If we have a good run, we will bounce right back in points. I think our competition will be bringing their ‘A’ game and it will be very important that we do as well."

GRAHAM ON FLYING WITH THE THUNDERBIRDS

On Thursday, Rahal will experience something he has wanted to do as long as he has wanted to be a race car driver – fly in an F-16. After a three-plus hour briefing session, he will experience the thrill of being in an F-16 aircraft that will take off from Luke Air Force Base. For more information on the Thunderbirds log on to: www.afthunderbirds.com. Rahal can’t wait for the experience.

“This is a dream come true for me. I am a very patriotic person and appreciate our military more than they will ever know. I always said as a kid if I didn't drive race cars I wanted to be a fighter pilot. So literally, for me, this opportunity is a dream come true!"

BOBBY RAHAL AT PIR

Team co-owner Bobby Rahal competed at PIR 16 times between 1982-1995 including two races in 1982, 1984 and 1986 but missed the race in 1983 due to a pre-race warm-up accident that injured a significant number of crew members and forced the team to withdraw from the race. Driver Bob Ward lost control of his race car in the pits and crashed into the back of Bobby’s car that was being worked on in his pit box. In addition to injuring several crew members who would not be able to perform pit stops due to broken bones, the impact broke the bell housing on Rahal’s race car. In total, he won two races (1984 – Race 2, 1992), one pole (1986 – Race 2) and earned six podium finishes (2nd: 1987, 1990, 1991; 3rd: 1986). He finished in the top-five eight times, made four front-row starts and nine starts in the top-five.

A return 20 years in the making – Dale Coyne Racing

Plainfield, IL – Dale Coyne Racing makes a long-awaited racing return to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this week for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix on Saturday, April 2, an event that presents a whole new challenge to rookie driver Conor Daly and Italian Luca Filippi.

The second round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season will mark the eighth race for the Illinois-based team at PIR, but the first for its drivers. The last time Dale Coyne Racing competed at the 1.022-mile oval was over 20 years ago, in 1995, when racing in CART with drivers Eric Bachelart and Alessandro Zampedri.

Daly, who pilots the #18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group car, will be making his first IndyCar Series start on a short-oval and only his second on any type of oval track.

As for his teammate Filippi in the #19 Boy Scouts of America Indy car, he is taking part in his first ever oval race, in what will be his 20th series start.

Nonetheless, the Dale Coyne Racing drivers are no strangers to PIR, having participated in what was a successful two-day test at the facility last month.

With their limited experience at this demanding track, Daly and Filippi agree that the 250-lap race will likely be one of their biggest challenges this season, but one they are ready and excited to take on.

The team will be on track Friday, April 1 for practice and qualifying, with the Phoenix Grand Prix going green on Saturday, April 2 at 9:15pm ET.

Both qualifying and the race will be broadcast live on NBCSN with qualifying airing at 2:00pm ET on Friday and the race airing from 8:30pm ET on Saturday.

Live timing and scoring will be available at racecontrol.indycar.com

Dale Coyne Racing Driver QuotesConor Daly – #18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality & Restaurant Group
“I think it’s going to be quite a challenge in Phoenix. Probably the biggest challenge we’ve faced so far. Especially for me as a driver. There’s a lot to learn, a different style of racing to get used to. I’m excited for it. It was nice to be able to test there in the Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality car, so we have a little bit of experience going into it, but still, I definitely think of this track as probably one of the biggest challenges we’ll face all year.

“Racing on a road and street course, that’s sort of what I was bred doing. You know what happens on a road and street course, everything is obviously new every race but the style and goals are all the same and you can sort of anticipate, but racing at Phoenix and racing on a short oval is a different style, there’s a different kind of technique and there’s a different strategy. The cars are super on the limit in Phoenix and it’ll be tough for everyone. It’s a whole new physical set of challenges, obviously the track is very difficult physically and I think patience is quite important in Phoenix as well and just staying in the fight will be the major key for us.
“I don’t have much to compare the track to in Phoenix but it’s pretty cool driving on it. With Turns 1 & 2 being so different from Turns 3 & 4 and having the dogleg, that creates, again, another challenge for racing there. When all the corners are different that presents another one, where is the best place to overtake, one place is obviously going to be a lot harder than the other and no one is going to be giving an inch. It’s going to be new, it’s going to be different but I like the track and I think it’s going to be a cool place to have a race."

Luca Filippi – #19 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q
“I’m very, very excited going into my first oval race, especially since it’s my first oval race in an Indy car which is something very special to me. Not many drivers have the opportunity to race on ovals so I also feel lucky and honored to accomplish this. I know it’s going to be a real challenge. It’s going to be something very different from everything else that I’ve experienced in racing, so I expect an exciting weekend but at the same time a tough weekend. It’s hard for me to have specific expectations, but being in IndyCar is what I like the most and where I want to be and I have to go through this learning process and take it step by step.
“My preparation for this race is going to be mentally slightly different because there’s still a lot to learn and we don’t have a lot of time to practice and work with our engineers to make the right changes before the race to get the Boy Scouts of America car where we want it. I’ll have to remind myself not to overdrive the car, because on ovals you don’t have room for that. I think the key will be to be patient. I obviously want to take the best out of it and we have to take it one step at a time to get the job done properly.

“Phoenix International Raceway is an interesting place to race because it’s so different to any other track that we race at. It’s what makes IndyCar racing the most versatile series in the world, at least in open-wheel. You have three types of tracks between street and road courses and ovals, and then the ovals are so different from one another, and Phoenix is unique compared to the other places we go to. It’s very challenging, very demanding physically and mentally. One of the big challenges will be to get used to the train of cars and the traffic that we will have in the race, and at such high speeds. I think in terms of a short oval, it’s probably one of the toughest because going through the traffic and staying with the traffic is going to be, from my point of view, much more difficult than any other place we will go to this year. It’s a huge challenge and with little experience in this type of racing it’s probably an even bigger one! But it’s very exciting, it’s something very new to me and I can’t wait to be there."Phoenix Grand Prix Schedule (all times local)

Friday, April 1, 2016
Practice: 10:00am – 11:15am
Qualifying: 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Autograph session: 4:15pm – 5:00pm
Final Practice: 6:15pm – 6:45pm

Saturday, April 2, 2016
Race: 6:15pm green flag (250 laps)

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