INDIANAPOLIS - Oriol Servia's charge through the Indianapolis 500 field was almost too good to be true as the driver of the #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special needed just 97 laps to storm from 25th to ninth.

But happens normally when things appear too good to be true, things went bad in hurry as a failure with the fuel pump feeding Ethanol to the team's Honda powerplant stopped the car in its tracks. Servia had just moved into ninth place, owing to Tony Kanaan's crash, but as he described it, 'the car just shut off like someone threw a switch'.

The engine stopped running on the backstretch of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, leaving Servia to coast back to the pits as the RLR squad waited to diagnose the problem. The team quickly diagnosed the problem and tried a couple of remedies before discovering that the problem was terminal.

"The car was really good and I was faster than most of the people around me all day," Servia said. "I was just waiting on the race to play out but I honestly felt that we had a car that could win the race. Everything was going according to plan. The car was amazing."

It didn't take long for Servia to show that he would be a force in the 200-lap race. After a Lap Seven restart caused by an early incident between Mario Moraes and Marco Andretti, Servia started climbing to the front. Having started 25th, Servia had gained six spots after just nine laps. He kept moving through the first quarter of the race, and had slipped into 15th by Lap 50. Strong work on a Lap 61 pitstop moved Servia up to 11th by Lap 75 and he eased into the top 10 with a strong pass to the outside of Paul Tracy on Lap 92. But everything was erased just five laps later and the team ended up being credited with a 26th-place finish.

"Well, they knew we were here today," said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. "I am very proud of what this team and Oriol accomplished this month and this should serve as proof to any sponsor and any partner that Rahal Letterman Racing is a strong racing organization and always puts together a competitive race effort."

The run was the second at Indianapolis for Servia, coming on the heels of an 11th-place finish a year ago. For Rahal Letterman Racing, the finish snaps a streak of five consecutive seasons with a top-ten finish in the Indianapolis 500.

"I have to thank Bobby, Dave, DAFCA and the whole team for putting this together this month," Servia said. "We had a great car. We were running 10th and moving forward. We were fast and the car was a pleasure to drive. I was having my dream race out there today."

-credit: rlr