IRL: Kentucky: Rahal Letterman Racing Saturday report

PATRICK WINS THE POLE AT KENTUCKY SPARTA, Kent. - Rahal Letterman Racing's rookie sensation Danica Patrick claimed the pole position for Sunday's Amber Alert Portal Indy 300 thus becoming the first female driver to win multiple IndyCar Series...

PATRICK WINS THE POLE AT KENTUCKY

SPARTA, Kent. - Rahal Letterman Racing's rookie sensation Danica Patrick claimed the pole position for Sunday's Amber Alert Portal Indy 300 thus becoming the first female driver to win multiple IndyCar Series pole positions. Patrick's practice speed of 217.516 mph claimed her the pole position when heavy showers rained out the afternoon qualifying session.

Patrick will make her third front row start of the season and her second start from the pole on Sunday. The No. 16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/ will be making its sixth top-five start in 12 races this season.

"Most of the tracks on the IRL circuit are ovals with pretty simple themes," said Patrick. "But a place like here at Kentucky, with its bumps, makes for a lot of different setups. Even though it is an oval, the characteristics are different from the other 1.5-mile ovals. Every track is a battle into its own. My engineer Ray (Leto) came up with a good plan for this weekend. The pole is the pole in any situation. I think we would have had a car for the pole in qualifying, plus it is always to our advantage to have a Honda engine. It was clear in the afternoon practice when we were preparing for qualifying then I looked up and there were several black clouds. Next thing I knew it was raining hard. I thought it would blow over and we would get in qualifying. I never thought qualifying would be rained out today. It feels good to win a pole with this field."

Patrick's RLR teammates Vitor Meira and Buddy Rice will start seventh and eleventh respectively.

Meira piloted the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Menard/Johns Manville Honda/Panoz/Firestone to seventh on the starting grid thanks to a practice lap of 217.036 mph. Meira will make his 40th career IndyCar Series start on Sunday.

"I'm happy for Danica, but it [qualifying rainout] is a bummer for Buddy and I," said Patrick. "I think we both have cars that are better than seventh and eleventh, but that is okay. We still have some improvements to make in warm-up and the cars should be good for the race. It was good that we all ran together in the second practice and worked on our race setup. Last year, we had a very strong car most of the race. This track is very tricky with the bumps but I think you can run the high line in some places. That should be good for passing in the race. Last year, we ran in a pack many times. If that happens again, we'll have a good car for traffic. On these 1.5 mile tracks, that is a big help."

Buddy Rice will pilot the No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/Firestone to the start in eleventh position. Rice won the pole at Kentucky last year and finished second.

"Hey, that is the way our luck has gone this year [with no qualifying]," said Rice. "I know I have a better car than eleventh, but it is good for the team to win the pole. Starting mid-pack isn't the best, but we can come from back there with this car at this track. The Honda engine is very strong and I feel good about the setup after we ran practice. We ran on full tanks in the afternoon practice and learned a lot about the car. I think the Argent/Pioneer car will be a factor on Sunday."

The Amber Alert Portal Indy 300 will be seen live on ABC starting at 3:30

-Rahal Letterman Racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Rice , Vitor Meira