INDIANAPOLIS - Throughout the opening week of Indianapolis 500 practice, Graham Rahal and the #30 Quick Trim/Rahal Letterman Racing Special found a little more speed every day, slowly building hopes that this one-off Indy effort was going to have the power to battle with the kings of the IndyCar Series.

Saturday, Rahal fulfilled those hopes as he earned entry in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout, then turned four more quick laps to secure the seventh starting spot for the May 30th Indy 500.

Rahal carded a four-lap average of 225.617 mph around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval during the first segment of qualifying to secure a spot in the Fast Nine, then hung up another four laps at 225.519 mph during the shootout to snare the inside of Row Three for next Sunday's race.

"I'm really proud of my team and of all the guys," Rahal said. "It's pretty impressive to be in this position considering that we just finalized this deal two weeks ago. Really, none of us expected two weeks ago to be out here running within a half-mile-an-hour of Scott Dixon. This really shows what this team is made of."

Rahal went out seventh among the 32 qualifiers that made attempts today and immediately ran his three fastest laps of the weekend, topped by one circuit at 225.744 mph. His average of 225.617 mph left him in the sixth spot as the five-hour opening qualifying segment ended, granting him passage to the Pole Shootout, where each driver had to make at least one more qualifying attempt. The #30 Quick Trim/RLR Special made four more quick laps that put it sixth in the field up until the last 15 minutes of the session, when Dixon dropped the car back to seventh, where it starts on the inside of the third row.

"I think the Quick Trim car has been better than it was today, as it was a little edgy in the corners but in this format, you just have to grit your teeth and go for it--if you don't, you aren't doing your job,' Rahal reported. "We had a couple of wiggles out there on our runs but I really do think we got a lot out of the car. There may have been more speed in it if we trimmed out, but it wasn't worth the risk."

The seventh-place starting position is the best for Rahal Letterman Racing at the Indy 500 since Danica Patrick started fourth in 2005. Vitor Meira started seventh for RLR in that same race and went on to finish second. This marks the fourth time in 33 Indy 500 starts for Rahal Letterman Racing that the team has started seventh, with two of those starts yielding top-10 finishes.

The team will get chance to practice tomorrow in between Bump Day qualifying attempts, as nine spots are still up for grabs in the 33-car field. The track will be silent Monday and Tuesday of next week as the field will go to Boston and New York for media activities, the cars will next be on track on Friday's Carb Day.

-source: rlr