IRL: Watkins Glen: Rahal Letterman Racing Friday report

RICE PACES RLR PRACTICE EFFORT AT WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL WATKINS GLEN, NY -- Buddy Rice paced the practice effort of Rahal Letterman Racing on the first day of the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix. Rice posted a fast lap of 131.481 mph in the ...

RICE PACES RLR PRACTICE EFFORT AT WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL

WATKINS GLEN, NY -- Buddy Rice paced the practice effort of Rahal Letterman Racing on the first day of the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix. Rice posted a fast lap of 131.481 mph in the afternoon session in the No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Honda/Panoz/Firestone to finish eleventh overall.

"The car felt pretty good and we stopped early today to save our tires," said Rice. "I think we were sixth or seventh when we parked the car in the second session. The track was getting rubbered in pretty well at the end of the afternoon practice. It will continue to get better as the weekend goes on. In fact, the tires from the Grand Am sports cars will help the track surface too. We were just over two-tenths off the top six and I believe the No. 15 Argent (Mortgage) Honda will get better. It is fun to come here to the Glen. It is one of those classic road courses that every driver wants to race. I think Sunday's show will be good for the fans. I know the drivers are anxious to race on it again."

Jeff Simmons piloted the No. 17 RLR/Team Ethanol Honda/Panoz/Firestone to 13th on the speed chart with a fast lap of 129.830 mph.

"Actually this is a good test for the Team Ethanol guys," said Simmons. "This is my first road course race in an Indy car. But it is a blast to drive here in these cars. I am learning about the braking and the shifting with this kind of horsepower. I have been a lot in the past and that is good that I know the track well. But it is a different beast with an Indy car. Brake points are different and you have a lot more horsepower than an IPS car. So it is still a learning experience for me. Marco (Andretti) had a full day of testing here with his car so it makes sense that he would be quick on Friday. I think we can improve our car for qualifying and the race. We will check our settings with Buddy (Rice) and Danica (Patrick) and get ready for another day on Saturday. I think we learned a lot but we know there is more in the car too."

Danica Patrick endured a frustrating day, finishing 16th overall in the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Panoz/Firestone with a fast lap of 129.236 mph.

"The Argent Honda isn't where we want it to be, but we are making progress. We started slowly at St. Pete this year, but we progressed and ended up having a pretty good weekend. Sometimes the toughest thing for a driver to do is to be patient. This is a tough demanding track and there are no quick fixes. Ray [Leto] and I have our work ahead of us, but I am confident we will have a better car tomorrow and an even better car on Sunday."

Helio Castroneves, the IndyCar Series points leader, was quickest on Friday with a fast lap of 133.792 mph in the afternoon session. Tony Kanaan was second quick followed by rookie Marco Andretti.

Practice and qualifying will resume on Saturday. The second annual Watkins Glen Indy GP will be held Sunday at 3:30 pm Eastern and be shown live on ABC.

-Rahal Letterman Racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Buddy Rice , Marco Andretti , Jeff Simmons , Danica Patrick