IRL: Indy 500: Rahal Letterman Racing day four report

RAIN CUTS SHORT PRODUCTIVE PRACTICE DAY FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING SPEEDWAY, Ind.-- Heavy rain showers brought a premature end to the on track activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the second full day of practice for the Indy 500. For...

RAIN CUTS SHORT PRODUCTIVE PRACTICE DAY FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING

SPEEDWAY, Ind.-- Heavy rain showers brought a premature end to the on track activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the second full day of practice for the Indy 500. For Rahal Letterman Racing the day was productive as the RLR trio of Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick and Jeff Simmons logged a combined 176 and made progress on the track.

Danica Patrick led the way with a fast lap of 223.084 mph which made her the first RLR driver to top 223 mph this month. Patrick ran 66 laps and finished 12th overall on the daily speed chart.

"We made some progress, but once again the weather cut short our practice time," said Patrick driver of the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Panoz/Firestone. "We have covered a lot of ground in the last two days, but we still have some work ahead of us. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can get on track and finish our preparations for qualifying. Everything seems more compacted this year since we didn't have the benefit of the rookie days like we did last year. This is where the experience and the success of the last few years here at Indy will pay benefits for our team."

Buddy Rice turned 71 laps in the No. 15 Argent Mortgage Honda/Panoz/Firestone, tops of the 23 drivers who took to the track. Rice posted a fast lap of 222.334 mph which was just shy of his top-ten lap from Tuesday.

"It was a good day for us because we really didn't think we would get in any laps today with the rain coming, and we learned more about our car," said Rice the 2004 Indy 500 champion. "We have seen over and over here that everyone does a different program. Some people want to go fast out of the box and others work on a variety of setups. I think our team goes towards the variety. The conditions are always changing and you need to be prepared for anything here at the Speedway. Hey, we weren't at the top of the charts in practice in 2004. But when it came time to go for the pole and the race, we knew it was time to go fast. So we are going along with the plan that has worked for us before."

Rookie Jeff Simmons clipped the inside wall in Turn 1 on just his fourth lap and lost an hour as the No. 17 Team Ethanol Honda/Panoz/Firestone was repaired. Simmons returned to the track turned 36 laps and posted a fast lap of 220.033 mph.

"I guess I lost it going through turn one," said Simmons. "It was weird because everything was fine and then the car instantly came loose. It was strange. Maybe something happened to the car and I didn't realize it. But I almost had the car gathered up. Then the left rear tire was flat and I couldn't keep it from the inside wall. I give the Team Ethanol crew a lot of credit. They had the car back and ready to go very quickly. So we had to start our program all over and really work from the basics. But we were able to get in some laps today that helped. The weather didn't look coming into the day. So any laps we were able to pick up were good for our team. I hope we can get more laps on Thursday and Friday to prepare for qualifying. Unfortunately, we'll have to watch the weather and see what happens."

Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr. topped the speed chart for a second straight day with a lap of 226.056 mph edging defending Indy champion Dan Wheldon's fast lap of 225.636 mph. Hornish is the only driver to top the 226 mph mark this month.

Practice will resume, weather permitting, on Thursday. Pole Day for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 is set for Saturday.

-rlr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Rice , Jeff Simmons , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske