IRL: Sears Point: Rahal Letterman Racing Friday report

RLR TRIO BEGIN PREP FOR ARGENT MORTGAGE INDY GRAND PRIX SEARS POINT, Calif. - Rahal Letterman Racing's Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick and Vitor Meira took to the permanent road course at Infineon Raceway for practice in preparation for the first...

RLR TRIO BEGIN PREP FOR ARGENT MORTGAGE INDY GRAND PRIX

SEARS POINT, Calif. - Rahal Letterman Racing's Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick and Vitor Meira took to the permanent road course at Infineon Raceway for practice in preparation for the first road course race in IndyCar Series history. Rice paced the RLR trio with a fast lap of 106.700 mph, which was eleventh quick overall.

Buddy Rice posted his fastest lap in the No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/Firestone during morning practice when he ran a lap of 106.700 mph.

"It feels good to be back on a road circuit," said Rice. "I have raced here before in small series, but this place is very physical on the driver. We worked well in the morning and learned quite a number of things. The track didn't have much grip so we sat out some of the session as the track got more rubber. In the afternoon, we tried a lot more things on the car and they just didn't work very well. So we'll go back to what we used in the morning. I think we all got a little excited to road race again. I know I was over driving the car too much at times. We haven't had a road racing event since April at St. Pete and we all enjoy this kind of driving. I feel we learned a lot today and should be much better on Saturday."

Vitor Meira posted a fast lap of 106.403 mph in the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Team Menard/Johns Manville Honda/Panoz/Firestone during afternoon session, which was good for twelfth overall.

"Wow, this place is physical," Meira said. "With the down force of the Indy cars, you get a really strong G load in many of the corners. It is almost as much as some of the high-banked ovals we race. But it is different since we turning left and right. But that is why we train so hard off the track. (Meira is a tri-athlete). You need to be in as good shape as possible. Overall, we learned a lot with the car today. We'll be stronger on Saturday and be prepared for the race. Eighty laps is going to be long at a track like this place."

Rookie sensation Danica Patrick was 19th overall with a fast lap of 104.250 mph.

"It is good to get back on a road circuit," said Patrick. "That is my background and it feels great to get there again. Road racing is a valuable skill and it is one you need to keep sharp. Especially because I think in the future we will be doing more road racing in the series. But to be honest, my experience is limited on road racing big cars like the Indy cars. Guys like Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti, Helio (Castroneves) and Bryan (Herta) have a lot of experience with the bigger cars. So they can adapt quickly to the Indy cars. But we are getting better each time out. We tested here in April and we picked up some good things with the car. But it is has been a awhile, back in April at St. Pete, since we have been racing on road circuit. It has been all ovals for a long time. But that isn't an excuse. Everyone is in the same spot. I knew that Buddy, Vitor and I are working together to get a good car for Sunday. And I think we are going in the right direction with the setup."

Rookie Ryan Briscoe of Ganassi Racing was quickest on the day with a fast lap of 108.130 mph. Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves was second quick at 108.072 mph.

Practice and qualifying will continue on Saturday with the race scheduled for Sunday at 3:30 pm Eastern on ESPN.

-rlr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing