RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING DRIVERS EACH SCORE CAREER-BEST INDY 500 FINISHES INDIANAPOLIS - A full month of work at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway paid off in spades for the Rahal Letterman Racing team on a soggy Sunday as both Scott Sharp ( ...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING DRIVERS EACH SCORE CAREER-BEST INDY 500 FINISHES
INDIANAPOLIS - A full month of work at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway paid off in spades for the Rahal Letterman Racing team on a soggy Sunday as both Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) scored the best Indianapolis 500 finishes of their respective careers with strong runs.
Sharp used all of his veteran skills along with strong pit strategy, to score a sixth-place finish after starting 12th. The run marked the third consecutive top-10 finish for Sharp at the Indianapolis 500 and matched his season high. The result also boosted him to eighth in the season point standings, moving him ahead of Danica Patrick.
"I think the whole Patron Rahal Letterman team has to walk away from the month of May pleased," Sharp said. "We had a good solid finish. Ran well, I think the race could have gone our way much more then it did. It seemed that when we would make a pit stop, the yellow would come out or when we came through traffic, we would get stuck behind someone. It was just a tough race from that perspective but it was a good month, we came here and wanted to try a lot of different things, we improved our competitiveness as the month went on and I can't say enough about the team. The guys worked their tails off."
Simmons deserved better than his 11th-place result today, but the third-year driver fell victim to the rains that plagued the race for most of the day. He was seventh when the rains called a halt to things at Lap 113, but had been running third before a radio problem caused him to pit a lap later than the frontrunners. Undaunted, he came back out after the break and resumed his chase, battling with the leaders through the second half of the race. Unfortunately, a rash of late-race accidents caused lengthy delays, allowing a second session of rains to call an early end to what was slated to be a 200-lap event. Those rains caught the Simmons squad on the wrong side of the pit strategy, dropping them to 11th.
"It reminds me of 2004, and I think I said that all day long," Simmons said. "We were running up there with the quick guys most of the day. There were a couple of guys that were quicker than us and it would have taken some traffic or something for us to beat them but I think we should have legitimately been sixth or seventh but with the rain it didn't work out in the end. We fought hard all day and I just wish we would have finished better for the guys and for Ethanol."
In the end, the Rahal Letterman Racing team made strong gains throughout the month and will put the lessons learned at Indianapolis to work next week as the IndyCar Series hits the venerable Milwaukee Mile for the ABC Supply/ A.J. Foyt Indy 225, which runs Sunday with a 3:30 p.m. Eastern start time on ABC.
"At the end a lot there were a lot of strategies that probably paid off for one car and not for the other and that's what happens when you get a day like today," said RLR General Manager Scott Roembke. "Jeff drove a really, really strong first stint and I liked our chances. After the rain everyone was fast. It was overhand pitch out there. We got some shots in like everyone did. We are disappointed with the results but we are pleased with the progress. I think if we can carry some of this competitiveness over to Milwaukee, we'll be in good shape."