IRL: Pikes Peak: Rahal Letterman Racing Saturday report

PATRICK LEADS RAHAL LETTERMAN QUALIFYING AT PIKES PEAK FOUNTAIN, Col. - Danica Patrick, Rahal Letterman Racing's rookie sensation, qualified fifth for Sunday's Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Patrick's fast lap of 174.389 ...

PATRICK LEADS RAHAL LETTERMAN
QUALIFYING AT PIKES PEAK

FOUNTAIN, Col. - Danica Patrick, Rahal Letterman Racing's rookie sensation, qualified fifth for Sunday's Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Patrick's fast lap of 174.389 mph effort led the RLR qualifying effort, which will see Vitor Meira start ninth and Buddy Rice twelfth.

Patrick will make her first start at PPIR and just her 13th IRL IndyCar Series start, claimed her seventh top-five start of the season and her fourth in the last six races. Patrick posted the fastest practice time in the combined morning sessions and for a while it appeared impending rain might cancel qualifying, which would have given Patrick her third pole position of the season.

"The Argent/Pioneer Honda was really good today," Patrick said. "I really think we got everything out of the car the way it was set up. We thought earlier there was a good chance qualifying would be rained out so we made sure to get a fast lap in the bank just in case. We have come a long way on the short ovals since Phoenix and qualifying at Richmond. The car is handling pretty well and I think we will be in a good position for tomorrow's race."

Vitor Meira was the second car out for qualifying, which proved to hamper the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Team Menards/Johns Manville as the track improved during the session. Meira claimed ninth on the starting grid with a fast lap of 173.838 mph.

"We had to go out second and that is a little bit of a question mark since the weather changed so much," Meira said. "You never know what will happen with the cool temperatures and the wind, but I was flat on the throttle. It felt pretty good. We did some race setups this morning and the car seems to be very good for the race. Rahal Letterman Racing had enough data coming into qualifying that we were not too surprised by the conditions. I got some information from Buddy after the last practice when the wind was really strong. Overall we had a strong run. Of course, we would obviously like to be faster."

Buddy Rice piloted the No. 15 Argent/Pioneer car to twelfth on the starting grid with a fast lap of 173.546 mph. Rice started eleventh at Pikes Peak last year, but his race lasted less than a lap as he was involved in a Turn 2 accident on the start.

"We didn't get as much out of the car in qualifying as what we needed for qualifying," Rice said. "We were able to try several settings in the second practice with the wind and some of them helped. We want to be prepared for any kind of conditions in the race. Last year, we had some trouble early, but that was a freak deal. This year is a whole another year. Now we'll be ready for the race. We were able to run some race setup in practice with full tanks. I was pleased with the car in that configuration. We just couldn't get the speed for qualifying. Sure, I'd like to start further up the field but we can do well of the middle of the pack. The race is much different than qualifying."

Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves edged his teammate Sam Hornish Jr. for the pole position with a fast lap of 175.423 mph. The pole is the first of the year for Castroneves.

-rahal letterman racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Buddy Rice , Danica Patrick , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske