IRL: Richmond: Rahal Letterman Racing race report

LEARNING CURVE CONTINUES FOR RLR AT RICHMOND RICHMOND, Virginia - Rahal Letterman Racing ended a weekend of lessons at Richmond in a frustrating manner. After showing progress in practice in the team's new Dallara chassis, RLR endured a tough ...

LEARNING CURVE CONTINUES FOR RLR AT RICHMOND

RICHMOND, Virginia - Rahal Letterman Racing ended a weekend of lessons at Richmond in a frustrating manner. After showing progress in practice in the team's new Dallara chassis, RLR endured a tough night on the track during the SunTrust Indy Challenge. Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick finished the race running 13th and 15th respectively while their teammate, rookie Jeff Simmons, ended the day on the sideline after hitting the wall on lap 60.

Rice started 18th after he clipped the wall in morning practice. Rice had to move to the back of the field because the No. 15 Argent Mortgage Honda/Dallara/Firestone incurred a damaged engine and thus required a new motor to be installed. League rules dictate that an engine change during a race weekend requires that team to start at the back of the field.

"It was a learning night for us with the No. 15 Argent Honda," said Rice. "We didn't get the laps at Texas that we needed to learn more about the Dallara. So tonight was another step in the steep learning curve. I didn't help the process this afternoon with the screw-up of hitting the wall. The car wasn't hurt too bad and the crew worked hard to get everything ready. Actually, by ourselves we were not bad but, in traffic, the car was a handful. I don't know what happened in the middle of the race but we lost some mechanical grip and I couldn't get off the corners. We just need some more time with the cars. Testing during the middle of the season is very difficult but we are going to get better. Bob (Rahal) and Dave (Letterman) made a commitment to go to the Dallara's and we'll get them up to speed. It will just take a little while. We'll go to Kansas next week and learn some more about the car."

Danica Patrick brought home the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Dallara/Firestone in 15th. It was her lowest finish of the 2006 season.

"I thought I was in good shape at the start," said Patrick. "I was quicker than most of the other cars in front of me and I was catching them. I really couldn't pass them when I caught them but at least I could hang with them. Then I don't know if the track rubbered up or what but I got tons of oversteer in the car. I made every adjustment possible inside the car to correct it but it wasn't enough. We made some strides this weekend with the Dallara chassis, but we still have a ways to go."

Jeff Simmons showed early promise then encountered the problems that led to his DNF in the No. 17 Team Ethanol Honda/Dallara/Firestone.

"At that point (lap 60) I knew I wasn't going anywhere so I was trying to move of the way," said Simmons. "I had two guys inside of me in turn two and I moved up the track. I hit some gray area on the top of the track and slid into the wall. We lost the clutch before the pit stop so it was tough getting out of the pits. I was just attempting to move out of everyone's way as the car's handling wasn't very good. I feel bad for the Team Ethanol crew on something like this. It has been a tough stretch for them with the new cars and now this crash."

Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr. captured his second win of the season by nearly four-seconds over Vitor Meira and Dario Franchitti. It was the sixth career runner-up result for Meira.

The IndyCar Series returns to the track next weekend for the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.

-rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Buddy Rice , Jeff Simmons , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske