Servia Sets Sights on Indy Win
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on May 27, 2011 | 9:34 A.M. EST
"This is not just another race and should not be treated like any other race, and we are definitely treating it very special." (Photo: Getty Images)
Veteran Oriol Servia has a front-row starting spot in his quest for Victory Lane in Sunday’s 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.
Servia will start his third career Indy 500 from the third position after turning a four-lap average of 227.168 mph in last Saturday’s qualifying session.
After sliding into the “Fast Nine,” Servia got his shot at securing a front row spot and came through for the Newman-Haas Racing team.
"I couldn't believe we were in the top-nine and then we decided to go all out at it and the Telemundo car was really fast,” Servia said after his run. “I'm just very proud of the whole crew. The work they put in over the winter, even with the uncertainty, when we didn't know 100 percent what the program was going to be. To be on the front row is just unbelievable."
The 2011 season is a bit of a homecoming for Servia and NHR, which has been one of IndyCar racing’s top teams for decades.
Servia first drove for the team in 2005 as the replacement for Bruno Junqueira, who suffered a season-ending injury in the Indy 500 that season. He went on to finish second to teammate Sebastien Bourdais in the point standings and earned seven podiums, including his first win in Montreal in 11 events with the team.
But even Servia didn’t think the reunion would go quite as well as it has this year when he returned to the organization’s fold. Although he’d worked with the team in the past, Servia wasn’t completely sure how the oval track portion of the program would work out.
"The good thing about the Indy 500 is that we test here for so many days that you can take your time to get used to the particulars of the track and speed without rushing things,” he said. “The last oval we did together, we finished fourth and the first one we did back in 2005 (Milwaukee) we finished third so I would say we do have good "high speed" chemistry.
“The question is not how long it will take but how much will we be able to get from each other. If we do our jobs as good as I know we can, I am sure we will do great."
Although limited, Servia’s Indianapolis performance has had its share of moments. In his previous two Indy 500 starts, Servia ran as high as eighth and finished 11th in 2008 with KV Racing after he qualified 25th. He was running 10th in the 2009 race with Rahal Letterman Racing when a fuel pressure problem forced him to retire after 98 laps. He qualified 25th and retired in 26th in 2009.
But Servia says this year’s effort with Newman-Haas cannot compare to his previous Indy experience.
"The other years, for one reason or another, we knew going into the race that we were at a clear disadvantage to our competitors,” Servia said. “This time it is not that way. We know that come race day if the Telemundo team has done our best work, we have a real shot at winning this thing. It feels great to know that it is in our hands."
Servia has competed at just about every major venue in the world of racing but says there is nothing at all like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
"This is not just another race and should not be treated like any other race, and we are definitely treating it very special,” Servia said. “At the same time we need to do what we have been doing up this point which is to focus one step at a time and make sure we get the best out of each other. That is our goal.”
As for a potential win, Servia says it would be a dream come true.
“I can't even imagine,” he said. “I just know how much I want it. I don't even care how it will affect my future as much as how it would make me feel the moment I did it."