RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TO START IN SEVENTH ROW FOR INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS - Tommy Milton, Frank Lockhart, Bill Vukovich and Al Unser Sr. make up an exclusive club in the annals of the Indianapolis 500, and on a sunny Indiana Saturday both...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TO START IN SEVENTH ROW FOR INDIANAPOLIS 500
INDIANAPOLIS - Tommy Milton, Frank Lockhart, Bill Vukovich and Al Unser Sr. make up an exclusive club in the annals of the Indianapolis 500, and on a sunny Indiana Saturday both Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Alex Lloyd (#16 WiiFit Dallara/Honda/Firestone) put themselves in position to join that club.
Both Rahal Letterman Racing machines hung up solid runs on the second day of qualifying for this year's Indianapolis 500, getting them securely in the May 25 event as both drivers locked down spots in the seventh row for next Sunday's 500-mile race. The grid positions could allow either Hunter-Reay or Lloyd to join the aforementioned racing heroes as the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 from the seventh row.
Lloyd took the 19th spot after posting a four-lap average of 221.788 mph, in a run that saw him gain speed on each of his four qualifying orbits around the 2.5-mile oval. His top speed for the four laps was 222.319 mph, qualifying him not only for his very first Indianapolis 500, but for the first IndyCar Series race of his young career.
"It was a good, solid run," Lloyd reported. "Our problem was on the first lap. The car was a little loose but it got better as we went. We ran a little conservative, just wanted to get it in the show and then we can work on our race setup next week. It's a lot of pressure not only running your first Indy 500 but your first IndyCar race here, but it has been a great experience for me."
For Hunter-Reay, he also qualified for his first Indy 500 with a four-lap average of 221.579 mph. The Floridian's speeds were very consistent over his quartet of laps, with a separation of just over .4 mph between his fastest and slowest laps. But after just missing the 11th spot last week before his accident, Hunter-Reay was hoping for a little better performance today - although he knows that a starting spot is less important in a 500-mile race than anywhere else that the Indy Cars visit.
"I'd like to say that I'm happy just to get in the field, but I really want to be out here battling up front," Hunter-Reay said. "But, the way things seem to go this year is that we practice and qualify about where we are now and we have a great race car and we are able to slice through the field. If that holds true here, we are in a pretty good spot. It's 500 miles, a lot can happen."
The team echoed that sentiment, and is counting on its long tradition at IMS along with its partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing to turn things around for race day.
"We're pleased to get both cars solidly in the field," said RLR Chief Operating Officer Scott Roembke. "When we started the month we had higher expectations from where we are now, but the weather and the incidents we had set us back. The Ethanol and WiiFit crews did a great job and worked very hard to get us back from where we were last week. The partnership between RLR and Ganassi Racing has been fun and I think it's been beneficial to all of us."