RLR's SCOTT SHARP STARTS THIRD IN KENTUCKY, HUNTER-REAY IS SEASON-BEST EIGHTH SPARTA, Ky.--Slighted by the racing press after a strong showing last weekend in Michigan that ended with a podium finish, Scott Sharp ( ...
RLR's SCOTT SHARP STARTS THIRD IN KENTUCKY, HUNTER-REAY IS SEASON-BEST EIGHTH
SPARTA, Ky.--Slighted by the racing press after a strong showing last weekend in Michigan that ended with a podium finish, Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) raised the ante a bit on a sweltering Friday at Kentucky Speedway.
Like he did in Michigan when he qualified fourth, Sharp spent the early practice sessions camped in the middle of the charts. But he answered the bell again when it counted, posting his best lap of the weekend during single-car time trials, snaring the third spot to lead Rahal Letterman Racing in qualifying for tomorrow night's Meijer Indy 300.
Sharp was one of the few drivers in the IndyCar Series field to find speed in the steamy afternoon conditions and knocked down his fourth top-four qualifying result of the year. He bumped Dan Wheldon off the pole with a fast lap of 24.5918 seconds (216.658 mph), and ended up third after putting up a time that only Dario Franchitti and eventual polesitter Tony Kanaan would top.
"The Patron Rahal Letterman Racing guys worked really hard today getting the car ready for qualifying," Sharp said. "The engineers went over a lot of things, paid great attention to detail and found some things that worked for us. We worked on the race car for most of the today's practices and hopefully that pays off later. We really need to continue translating these qualifying successes into good race finishes."
Rahal Letterman Racing's newest driver as Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) continued to show why he was one of the most sought-after free agents in open-wheel racing as he qualified a season-best eighth on a track he had never seen until this morning. Hunter-Reay snapped off a quick lap of 24.6923 seconds (215.776 mph) around the 1.5-mile Kentucky tri-oval, notching his second top-10 grid spot in his three IndyCar starts.
"We went in two different directions today in practice, which is the benefit of having a two-car team," Hunter-Reay said. "We took some things from Scott's setup and put them on the Ethanol car and they definitely made us faster than we had been. I am pleased with the performance of the car today and we will look to keep moving up tomorrow and continue to grow as a team."
A pair of top-seven finishes for Hunter-Reay have thrust him into the heart of the series' rookie fight, and today's qualifying result could help him take the lead in that battle tomorrow. He trails Milka Duno by 27 points and since Duno is not running this weekend, Hunter-Reay would take the rookie points lead with a sixth-place finish.