After the announcement only three weeks ago that open-wheel racing would unify and move forward under the IndyCar Series banner, Justin and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing switched their focus to competing in the 2008 IndyCar Series beginning with the season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway on 29th March. On 3rd March, the team took delivery of the first two IndyCar Series cars that they will compete with and began preparing the Honda-powered Dallara chassis to be run on Firestone tires for the first of two pre-season tests for Champ Car teams joining the IndyCar Series.
A two-day test at Sebring International Raceway road course will take place this week (19th and 20th March) and another two days of testing will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week (24th and 25th March).
Unfortunately Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is unable to participate in this week’s test, as General Manager Brian Lisles explained: “Despite the best efforts of Dallara and the IndyCar Series, we still don’t have all the parts necessary to be ready in time to test in Sebring. It is a big disappointment for the team and an enormous setback because we will be losing valuable track time that will be difficult to recover. The team continues to work hard to complete the cars in time for the Homestead test on March 24-25."
Justin supported the team’s decision. “Obviously I’m disappointed that I won’t be testing at Sebring", he said. “I was looking forward to trying out the Dallara for the first time and making some progress on our 2008 season. The circumstances have come about that we won’t be able to make it and I know the team will use the extra time wisely. They said right from the start that they will not put out a car that is not up to their usual high standard of preparation. It is reassuring for me to know that I will have a reliable car, especially given the commitment necessary to compete on some of these high speed tracks."
Justin’s team-mate Graham Rahal added: “It is disappointing to not be testing in Sebring this week, but we all understand that this team has been used to sending the car out on the race track without any doubts in their mind that their preparation was 100 percent perfect. We have found ourselves in a position where this would not be the case and instead we felt that it would be best to focus our efforts on the Homestead test and race. This will give us more time to prepare for the busy upcoming schedule." Source: Justin Wilson website