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Patrick tops RLR qualifying at Infineon SONOMA, Calif. - Danica Patrick posted her best ever IndyCar Series road course qualifying effort with a fast lap of 104.772 mph. Patrick topped her previous best effort of 14th at St. Petersburg by three...

Patrick tops RLR qualifying at Infineon

SONOMA, Calif. - Danica Patrick posted her best ever IndyCar Series road course qualifying effort with a fast lap of 104.772 mph. Patrick topped her previous best effort of 14th at St. Petersburg by three spots and she becomes the top RLR road course qualifier for the first time.

Patrick will start eleventh, three spots better than her previous best start of 14th at St. Petersburg. Patrick has a pair of top-eight results on road courses this year and will look for another top-ten on Sunday.

"This was by far our best lap of the weekend, so it is a real testament to my engineer Ray [Leto] and the Argent crew that the car was so good for qualifying. We will start in the middle, but this is our best start in the IndyCar Series on a road course so if we stay out of trouble we should be able to leave here with a pretty decent result. It is pretty physical here in Sonoma, so it will be a matter of hanging on and staying consistent and staying fast and seeing what opportunities present themselves as the race unfolds."

Buddy Rice finished second at Infineon last year after starting sixth. This year he will start 12th after posting a lap of 104.529 mph. One of Rice's two top-five results this season came on the road course at Watkins Glen in June.

"That run was pretty disappointing," said Rice. "We thought we could go in the low 1.18's [seconds], but we had a big push in the carousel and the car wouldn't turn. The car felt so good this morning and we were excited about qualifying, so this is a little surprising. We have to get the car ready for the race setup. We had a good race last year (second) and I am prepared for a tough race through the field. This is a fun place to race with an IndyCar. The field is very competitive and you have to find ways to pass. It isn't easy but you can do it. We did it last year and I think we can do it again on Sunday."

Rookie Jeff Simmons will start 14th in the No. 17 team Ethanol Honda/Panoz. Simmons posted a fast lap of 104.068 mph which puts him on the outside of row seven.

"That lap was close to what I ran this morning but we thought we would be faster," said Simmons. "Maybe the track changed a lot with the sports cars on it before qualifying. The car wanted to slide around more than it did before. We'll have to work hard on Sunday to get to the front part of the field. This is the first time back in the Panoz chassis since Watkins Glen for our team. We felt we would have a better chance in qualifying since Buddy ran so well here last year. It just didn't go as well as we wanted. We are still a little confused on how the car didn't run as well as we expected today."

Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, currently fourth in the championship, claimed the pole position and grabbed momentum heading into Sunday's Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway. Rookie Marco Andretti claimed second and championship runner-up Helio Castroneves will start third and championship leader Sam Hornish Jr. will start tenth.

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Buddy Rice , Jeff Simmons , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing