IRL: Indy 500: Rahal Letterman Racing Pole Day report

PATRICK CLAIMS TENTH IN INDY QUALIFYING Rice and Simmons safely qualify their RLR entries for the 90th Indy 500 SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Pole Day at Indianapolis saw 32 cars qualify and in the end it was hard to find a driver happier than Danica...

PATRICK CLAIMS TENTH IN INDY QUALIFYING
Rice and Simmons safely qualify their RLR entries for the 90th Indy 500

SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Pole Day at Indianapolis saw 32 cars qualify and in the end it was hard to find a driver happier than Danica Patrick who qualified tenth. After a soggy month of difficulties Rahal Letterman Racing safely qualified all three entries for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Danica Patrick qualified on the inside of Row 4 with a four lap average of 224.674 mph in the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Panoz.

"That was a pretty solid run," said Patrick the 2005 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. "The car was very consistent and that was the fastest we have gone all month. To post those speeds in qualifying is the right time to do it so I am pretty happy right now. We have had a hard month. It hasn't been easy like it was last year. I feel relived to have the Argent Mortgage/Honda in the show. I saw first hand what can happen in a 500-mile race. A lot of things can go right and wrong so the key is to be patient. The best thing and my goal for today was to be ahead of the rift raft that tends to happen in the middle of the pack. Since I am just ahead of that problem area I have a real shot at running this race well. If we have a consistent car I think that will be the best. Consistency has been a big issue for everyone, but especially for us in the Panoz chassis. At the end of the day it is about having a good race car. Look at Dan Wheldon last year. He qualified further back than what we have this year and yet he won the race. In the long run it will be good pit stops and good strategy, fast car, overtaking and that is what gets you to the front more than just shear speed."

Buddy Rice qualified 14th in the No. 15 Argent Mortgage Honda/Panoz with a four lap average of 224.393 mph.

"I'm pretty happy with our speed. That is the fastest we have run all month and it was extremely consistent. So we are happy about that. I think the whole team would have liked to have run more this month but the weather held us back. But I feel pretty confident with the No. 15 Argent Honda for the race. We have worked a lot with full tanks and in race trim. I am really happy with that setup right now. Qualifying is its own thing. You have to be really good for four laps. I think we will be solid in the race because we have run with other cars in race trim. We are hearing that race day temps might be in the mid 80s and that could really change the complexion of the race. We haven't had a very warm day all month here. I know that my car is good in traffic and that is going to be a key for the race. We just want to be very consistent for the race and work on the car all day long. We did that in 2004 and I think we can do again."

Jeff Simmons returned to the track following Friday's accident and qualified 26th with a four lap average of 220.347 mph in the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Honda/Panoz/Firestone.

"I think the Team Ethanol guys did an awesome job to get a car ready that had never run before today. They basically put the car together last night and we were able to put the car in the show. I just can't thank them enough. With that accident yesterday (Friday), we lost a pretty car and a very good race day car. Today we just want to qualify and now we can go back to get our race setup good again. We got in very few laps this morning and I am grateful to the crew for hustling so hard to get the car prepared for qualifying. It is a shame that we lost the car yesterday because we felt like the car was really good. And now we have to kind of start over. Obviously we have gone a lot quicker than that and we were pleased how the first car was working. This car had never really been on the track before so we needed to be safe and get the car in the show. You have to put a crash behind you and jump back on the horse. That is the first thing I wanted to do this morning. Now I want to go out and get in some more practice time in race settings."

Sam Hornish Jr. captured the pole position for the 2006 Indianapolis 500 with a four lap average of 228.985 mph edging his Penske Racing teammate Helio Castroneves qualifying average of 228.008 mph. Dan Wheldon the 2005 Indy 500 champion will start third with a four lap average of 227.338 mph.

-rlr-

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