IRL: Texas: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING HEADS TO TEXAS AS MARCH TOWARD THE FRONT CONTINUES HILLIARD, Ohio - Carrying the momentum earned in the Indianapolis 500, Rahal Letterman Racing drivers Scott Sharp ( ...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING HEADS TO TEXAS AS MARCH TOWARD THE FRONT CONTINUES

HILLIARD, Ohio - Carrying the momentum earned in the Indianapolis 500, Rahal Letterman Racing drivers Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) continued their trek toward the sharp end of the grid with a pair of top-10 finishes in Milwaukee a week ago.

The Ohio-based squad will seek to maintain its upward trend this weekend at the always-unpredictable 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval in a old-fashioned Saturday-night shootout under the lights at one of the series' most exciting tracks.

The high-banked oval has produced some of the most exhilarating finishes in series history, including five of the 16 closest finishes in the 11-year history of the IndyCar Series. The track has also played host to two of the four closest 1-2-3 finishes in series history. The margin of victory has been less than one second in 12 of the 17 previous Texas starts.

"Texas is different from any of the tracks that we've been on this year," Simmons reports. "It's closer to Kansas but Kansas puts more of a premium on handling, while Texas is all about getting all the speed you can out of the car. You need to have a car that works right up underneath somebody and a car that is good in traffic because you will usually find yourself in traffic for most of the night."

Sharp is one of the most successful drivers in Texas Motor Speedway history, having scored 10 top-ten finishes including victories in 2000 and 2001. He has led in 12 of his 16 Texas starts including nine in a row at one point. Sharp has been climbing toward the top of the standings in the last six weeks, scoring back-to-back sixth-place finishes that have him sitting just five points out of seventh place after six races.

"I love Texas, it's one of my favorite tracks," Sharp said. "I've won there twice, I've finished second, it's been a great place for me. It's our Talladega, it's a big drafting thing, running three-wide and I love that kind of racing. We just need to be able to keep pace with the leaders and we'll have a shot to do well."

Simmons scored his third top-10 result of the year with a 10th-place run in Milwaukee, a result made more impressive by the fact that he started 18th after a crash in practice left him unable to qualify. Simmons passed four cars in the first two laps and marched toward the front, aided by quick work from his Rahal Letterman Racing pit crew that gained him two positions on each of his first three stops on Sunday. The finish left him in 11th place but allowed him to move to within 21 points of what is a tie for ninth in the standings between Tomas Scheckter and Danica Patrick.

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Scott Sharp , Jeff Simmons