CHAMPCAR/CART: Zolder: Rahal Letterman Racing Friday notes

RYAN HUNTER-REAY LEADS RAHAL LETTERMAN EFFORTS IN OPENING PRACTICE AT SONOMA SONOMA, Calif. - An old Scottish proverb reminds us that 'the best-laid plans of mice and men oft gang aglay', which basically means that you can plan all you want, but...

RYAN HUNTER-REAY LEADS RAHAL LETTERMAN EFFORTS IN OPENING PRACTICE AT SONOMA

SONOMA, Calif. - An old Scottish proverb reminds us that 'the best-laid plans of mice and men oft gang aglay', which basically means that you can plan all you want, but you had better be ready for whatever is waiting around the next corner.

On a Chamber-of-Commerce day in Sonoma, California, the Rahal Letterman Racing team saw their plans change, re-change, and then change again, during the opening day of practice for this weekend's Motorola Indy 300 at Infineon Raceway.

Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) had an encouraging outing in the Team Ethanol machine in just his second day ever at the 2.26-mile Wine Country road course, finishing in the top half of both practice session, stopping the clocks with a best time of 1:17.8524 (106.355 mph) to post the ninth-best time of the day. The American-born driver was ninth in both sessions, overcoming a problematic radio system that rendered him incommunicado with his team for the entire first session.

"Overall it was a good day for the Ethanol team in Sonoma," Hunter-Reay said. "We started out with some electrical problems in the morning that held us back a little but like we have done every weekend since I've been here, we kept digging, kept working on the car and it keeps getting better. The Firestone tires have been super-consistent so far. One of the best laps I ran today came on older tires, so I have no worries about that being an issue at all. I think we're in a good place for tomorrow and I think we are in a prime position to contend for a strong result."

Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) was not as fortunate on the first day of the three-day race weekend. The Patron squad had just made a few changes on Sharp's car late in the first practice session and the Connecticut native used those changes to snap off his fastest lap of the day with a time of 1:19.1530 (104.608 mph). In racing, one fast lap usually breeds another and while on his fastest lap of the day on his next pass, he slipped off course in Turn Nine and spun, with the resulting impact causing session-ending damage to the car. The Rahal Letterman Racing unit put up a yeoman effort in repairing the car, but with just two hours between practice runs, the team was unable to get the Indy Car ready to answer the bell - with the result being that Sharp watched the afternoon practice from the discomfort of his pit stall.

"It is a shame that we had to miss the second session, and that's the real problem that can occur when you have something happen in the last 10 minutes of a session like we did this morning," Sharp lamented. "I was on a real quick lap, up two-tenths from my best time that I set the lap before, when the spin happened. The real shame of it was that we had just made changes that brought the car back and made it feel really good, so hopefully we can pick up at that point tomorrow.

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Ryan Hunter-Reay