The centennial Indy 500 will, of course, be a huge event anyway but also an exciting time for us. We'll be running two cars – Alex in No. 77, as usual, and we'll run Townsend Bell in the No. 99 Herbalife car. That's a deal Sam had in place before he acquired our team. Then Sam has also entered the No. 88 car with Jay Howard, which Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is going to run for us. How that No. 88 deal works is that RLLR will be responsible for that car, but if they need something, hopefully they'll come to ask us before they ask someone else, and likewise, if there's something we need, they'd be our first port of call. So, those are Sam's programs, and there are a couple of other things related to Indy that Sam's involved in, too. They'll be revealed over the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, we can look back on the first three rounds of this season and be reasonably happy. In St. Pete, we qualified eighth last year and 10th this year (though as competitive as the field is now, that's splitting hairs) and finished sixth. But Barber Motorsports Park I was really happy with, aside from the end result: we qualified 21st last year, we finished the test there in 14th, and we made it to the top 12 for qualifying. We're continuing to go forward. We actually got caught out a little bit in segment two in qualifying, and I think we had a little bit more. But, in a way, maybe that helped us because we made some more changes overnight and ended up with a very good racecar.
Alex, as at St. Pete, did a really good job on the restarts in Barber and we moved from 12th to 10th on the original start, then to eighth on the next restart. OK, so that might not be Tony Kanaan-style progress, but I think we were taking a few less risks with our Bowers & Wilkins No. 77 car than Kanaan! And I think we had the pace to finish top six. That's the sort of consistency we've worked over the winter to try and achieve, and a sign of genuine progress.
We're lucky even with all of the changes over the winter there's still a huge amount of continuity in the team. We've got the engineering group working together still. It's been a long time since Alex has had the same group of people around him for two years in a row. I think we tried to lay that same sort of foundation last year and it's paying off this year. Obviously, the goal is to continue to build that into the structure this year to be a competitive two-car program with the new chassis in 2012. Alex remains very focused. For sure, some of the changes in the off-season were unsettling, but fortunately, with the timing of events, by the time we got to St. Pete we were able to put all that behind us. He's been as calm and as focused as last year and so there's been a level of consistency with him, too, which is part of what we have been trying to achieve.
At Long Beach last year, we qualified seventh but certainly had a very up-and-down weekend, whereas this year we qualified ninth, stayed on it the whole time, and Alex was able to lead for a few laps and bring the car home fifth, which was satisfying. If we cure a couple of balance issues with the car, then I think we'll have a strong performance again in Sao Paulo this weekend.
One of the beauties about last year is that we had no expectations anywhere! We're very aware that for the next two events, Brazil and Indy, where we qualified second and fifth last year, expectations are high. Well, for me, it's more about showing that we can be consistent. The disappointing thing last year in Sao Paulo was not finishing the race, through no fault of our own. So, to be honest, the team's focus is more on getting the Bowers & Wilkins car finishing top five than qualifying on the front row again. Our aim is to leave Indy at the end of May still firmly in the top 10 in the points table. We currently lie sixth, so I think that's very feasible.
We're going to have an exciting, thrilling Month of May, between Brazil and Indianapolis! Be sure to watch us, support us and come meet us.