"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a very special place and we have always taken great pride in performing well there,” said Sam Schmidt. "Having the chance to work with a team like Rahal Letterman Lanigan gives us even more reason to be optimistic about our chances for success.
"Jay Howard is a very talented driver and we look forward to a promising month of May."
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has formidable IndyCar experience including an Indy 500 win with Buddy Rice in 2004, but the team has been out of IndyCar since the end of 2008 preferring to concentrate on the American Le Mans Series GT, but fielded Oriol Servia and Graham Rahal in the Indy 500 in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
"Between Sam's team and ours, we have the experience, knowledge and ability to provide an entry that will allow Jay to show his skills," said Bobby Rahal. "I think Jay has always been right on the brink of breaking through in IndyCar racing and our plan is to provide him with everything he needs to take that next step."
Servia, Hinchcliffe to test with Newman/Haas
Familiar IndyCar/Champ Car veteran Oriol Servia and A1 GP/Firestone Indy Lights driver James Hinchcliffe are to test with Newman/Haas Racing racing next week, during the first official 'open' pre-season test session being held by IndyCar at Barber Motorsports Park.
Both drivers have run previous tests with the team, and Hinchcliffe made two testing appearances at Sebring International Raceway.
"The rookie class for 2011 is looking super strong," said Hinchcliffe on Monday. "With guys like JR (Hildebrand) and Charlie (Kimball) and now Bia (Ana Beatriz) getting a ride it's shaping up to be a great race for Rookie Of The Year. I am just working as hard as I can to make sure that come [season opener] St. Pete I am in a Newman/Haas Racing car so we can add our name to that fight."
Running two drivers at the test is being seen as a strong indication that Newman/Haas is preparing to run two cars in the 2011 IndyCar championship.
Mann's Conquest test success
Pippa Mann's bid to secure the vacant seat at Conquest ahead of the likes of veteran Paul Tracy and Indy Lights champion Jean-Karl Vernay got a boost with a successful test with the team at Texas Motor Speedway last week.
Despite a fuel pump issue, Mann got nearly a full day's running with the team and received praise from Eric Bachelart, the team boss at Conquest: "Pippa quickly got up to speed and was setting competitive lap times early on and that isn't always the case for someone turning their first laps in an IndyCar.
"She did a really great job and provided really good feedback to the team, which helped us to make some changes and make the car even better balanced and faster. Overall I'm very pleased with how the day went and with what we were able to accomplish."