RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING POUNDS PAVEMENT IN PURSUIT OF WATKINS GLEN POLE
WATKINS GLEN, New York--Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) came into this weekend's visit to Watkins Glen hoping to spur their Rahal Letterman Racing machines even further up the charts as the Indy Car Series starts its stretch run.
But as with most things, hoping doesn't do much for your position on the time charts. Therefore, the team spent the day running alongside their IndyCar brethren in a pair of practice sessions on the fearsome 3.37-mile road course in Central New York.
The duo put in nearly three full hours of practice around the fabled Watkins Glen circuit today, preparing for tomorrow's final qualifying session that will set the grid for Sunday's race. The spots on the day's speed sheets were not as lofty as the team had anticipated, but the full day's efforts put the squad in good spirits for Saturday's qualifying day.
"Right now we don't have the speed we need but we made some small gains at the end of the session," Simmons said. "I think that will give us what we need to make it better tomorrow. If we continue down the path we are on right now, we should be competitive."
Simmons was the quicker of the two RLR cars on a breezy - and sometimes rainy - Friday, putting up a best time of 1:32.3206 (131.412 mph) to take the 14th spot on the charts. Sharp followed directly behind, carding a time of 1:32.6067 (131.006 mph).
"It's been a little bit of a challenging day with the track and the rain," Sharp reported. "The track is different than we expected, so we had to chase it for much of the day. I think we're getting closer. The changes are making a difference, we just need to find a way to have those changes produce a bigger result. If we do that, we'll be fine."
The Rahal Letterman Racing team will get back at it tomorrow, with practice starting at 9:45 a.m. The grid for Sunday's race will be set with single-car qualifying along with the Firestone Fast Six session at 1:30 p.m. Sunday's race will begin at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time and can be seen live on ABC.