IRL: Michigan: Rahal Letterman Racing qualifying report

SCOTT SHARP SNARES SECOND-ROW STARTING SPOT FOR SUNDAY'S MICHIGAN SWAN SONG BROOKLYN, Mich.--Despite developing his racing reputation as a road-course ace, Rahal Letterman Racing's veteran Scott Sharp ( ...

SCOTT SHARP SNARES SECOND-ROW STARTING SPOT FOR SUNDAY'S MICHIGAN SWAN SONG

BROOKLYN, Mich.--Despite developing his racing reputation as a road-course ace, Rahal Letterman Racing's veteran Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) has been at home on the high-speed, high-banked two-mile Michigan International Speedway oval over the last five years.

Sharp is the only IndyCar driver to have completed each and every one of the 2,000 miles of IRL competition in the last five years, and has scored top-10 finishes in each of the five previous IRL races at MIS.

So it came as little surprise on a warm Saturday afternoon in Michigan's Irish Hills as Sharp led the RLR contingent in qualifying for tomorrow's Firestone Indy 400. The surprise came when Sharp carded a qualifying lap that was nearly 2 mph faster than anything he had run all day, taking the fourth spot for Sunday's Firestone Indy 400 with a time of 33.0835 seconds (217.631 mph)

"I really didn't expect us to be that fast but my engineer Jeff (Britton) and the guys did a great job, found a great balance on the car and we turned in a great lap," said Sharp, who scored the best Michigan qualifying result of his career. "We worked on our race setup in the practice sessions, so I don't think we really knew what we had in qualifying. But to put in a lap like that shows what this team is capable of. You always want to run your best lap in qualifying and that's what we did."

Rahal Letterman Racing's newest driver as Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) got an extra day of practice yesterday - owing to the fact that he had never raced at MIS before - and showed that he is a quick learner as he qualified 11th with a best lap of 33.3521 seconds (215.878 mph). Hunter-Reay is making his first-ever appearance on a two-mile oval track in the United States, with his only other two-mile experience coming on the triangular-shaped two-mile EuroSpeedway Lausitz layout in Germany back in 2003. He took to the high-banks liked a seasoned pro however, having no troubles in traffic or running alone on the massive Michigan circuit.

"We are still searching for some straight-line speed in the car but it is feeling pretty good out there," said Hunter-Reay. "I am glad that the series got me down here a day early and got us some track time yesterday. It helped me get my feet wet on a big track like this. Here, it is all about getting a feel for these cars in the corner and yesterday really helped us with that. Now we have to get ourselves set up for tomorrow."

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Ryan Hunter-Reay