PATRICK PACES RLR TRIO IN PRACTICE FOR INDYCAR STOP AT "THE MILE" WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Rahal Letterman Racing rookie Danica Patrick paced the RLR trio finishing sixth overall on the first day of practice for the ABC Supply / AJ Foyt 225 at the ...
PATRICK PACES RLR TRIO IN PRACTICE FOR INDYCAR STOP AT "THE MILE"
WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Rahal Letterman Racing rookie Danica Patrick paced the RLR trio finishing sixth overall on the first day of practice for the ABC Supply / AJ Foyt 225 at the Milwaukee Mile. Patrick who has raced twice previously at the Milwaukee Mile in when she ran in Rahal Letterman's Formula Atlantic program, was sixth overall with a fast lap of 163.385 mph.
"I feel pretty good about where we are at with the Argent/Pioneer Honda," said Patrick. We were pretty quick this morning so this afternoon we decided to focus on race set-up and we ran the entire session with full tanks. I really like the balance of the car. I had to make a couple of adjustments with the weight jacker, but overall we were pretty much spot on. We sure have come a long way since our first day at Richmond. It is a good sign that we are making progress as a team on the short ovals because that has been our weakness this season. With Milwaukee being a short oval it is tougher to pass here than at the bigger tracks so it will be vital to start up front. I don't know if we can will the pole, but at least we will be in the hunt which is amazing considering how far we were off a few weeks ago in Richmond."
Vitor Meira piloted the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Team Menard/Johns Manville Honda/Panoz/Firestone to ninth on the practice charts with a fast lap of 162.895 mph. Meira won the pole for the Milwaukee race in 2004.
"We had a little mechanical problem in the second session so we had to stop early," said Meira. "But actually I am very pleased with the car today. We concentrated a lot on race day setup and the Menards/Johns Manville car was very good in the afternoon session. We know it is scheduled to be very hot on Sunday so we wanted to work on the car's handling on full tanks and used tires. Our times don't look very good on the speed charts today, but overall we learned a lot. We'll try a few new things for qualifying and we will be a pretty good shape. I don't if we can win the pole like we did last year, but I feel good going into Sunday now."
Buddy Rice finished second at Milwaukee in 2004, one of four straight top-two results he posted last season. Rice comes to Milwaukee fighting a tough run of luck, which has derailed his expected championship bid. Rice, who was dealt the set-back of running in the first group for the split practice sessions, was 16th overall preferring to focusing on his race set-up over this qualifying program.
"We ran in the first session both times and that is a little bit of a disadvantage," said Rice. "In the first session, you don't have much rubber on the track and in the afternoon you are running on a track with a 20 degree hotter track surface than the second group. But we did learn a bunch today and I think that something that helps us in last year's race when we got second. I have raced here many times and this place isn't easy. It always throws you a curve. But we worked on race settings most of the day and I think we'll surprise people on Sunday. Looking at the weather for Sunday and it is scheduled to be close to 95 and that makes for a slippery track. We'll have to see how things shape out in qualifying on Saturday. But I feel good after today's runs."
Helio Castroneves topped the speed chart with a fast lap of 166.293 mph. Points leader Dan Wheldon (165.605 mph) was second quick and three-time pole winner Tomas Scheckter (165.390) of Panther Racing was third quick.