Alex Lloyd is confident that he will be a frontrunner from the outset when he returns to the IndyCar Series with Newman/Haas/Lanigan at Homestead this weekend. The Briton has contested the last two Indianapolis 500s but has not had a full-time drive since winning the 2007 Indy Lights title.
Newman/Haas/Lanigan's oval form has become increasingly strong this season, with Graham Rahal taking third at Motegi, and although Lloyd acknowledged that he was short on mileage, he believes he can keep the team among the leaders.
"I don't think you can get any more pressure than Indy but for sure there is pressure when you only compete on a very limited schedule and when your experience level in the IndyCar Series is very low," said Lloyd. "Having said that, I feel well prepared for the race and I know I have a great team behind me. I think our goals are to run up front and I believe we can do that. I think the car is capable of qualifying very high up the grid and if we can do that for sure we will be in a good place for a good strong race."
Lloyd replaces Oriol Servia in Newman/Haas/Lanigan's second car for Homestead, in what could be a precursor to a full season in 2010. He tested for the team at the Miami oval recently, and is optimistic that he can run with the Ganassi and Penske drivers as they fight for the title in the deciding race.
"Obviously, we don't want to cause any issues or troubles for any of the contenders and just let them battle it out between themselves – but at the same time we do want to be mixing it up with these guys," said Lloyd. "I view this race as the beginning of my 2010 season. I want to use this race as a building block to hopefully serve me well next season."
The 24-year-old was taken on as a Ganassi protege after winning the Lights title, but the team was unable to find funding for a third car. His Indy appearances – in cars run in collaboration with other teams – were the only IndyCar outings he managed while under Ganassi's wing.
Lloyd parted company with the champion team earlier this year to look for other opportunities, and has retained the HER energy drink sponsorship that backed his 2009 Indy 500 entry. He will again carry the company's distinctive pink livery with Newman/Haas/Lanigan, as well as an unusual five-digit car number, to promote a charity for cancer research.