RLR/Andersen Racing's Prendeville Qualifies Fourth for Homestead Season Opener HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 28 - Although the Indy Pro Series' name changed to the Firestone Indy Lights Series earlier this week, the RLR/Andersen Racing team wasn't ...
RLR/Andersen Racing's Prendeville Qualifies Fourth for Homestead Season Opener
HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 28 - Although the Indy Pro Series' name changed to the Firestone Indy Lights Series earlier this week, the RLR/Andersen Racing team wasn't worrying about decals and patches Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Palmetto, Fla.-based team concentrated on the task at hand instead and saw one of its drivers, Andrew Prendeville, qualify fourth for tomorrow's season opener here at 12:30 p.m.
Driving the Best Friends Animal Society No. 5, the Las Vegas-based driver did two laps of Homestead's 1.5-mile oval in 57.4673 seconds for an average speed of 186.054 miles per hour to earn the right to start outside of Row 2 for the Miami 100, a 67-lap (100-mile) event. His fastest lap of the two, a 28.7100, was only 0.2194 of a second slower than the fastest lap set by the polesitter, Raphael Matos. Prendeville's two laps were clocked in 28.7100 and 28.7573 seconds, respectively.
The top five were Matos, Dillon Battistini, Sean Guthrie, Prendeville and Richard Antinucci.
Prendeville's RLR/Andersen Racing teammate, series rookie J.R. Hildebrand of Indianapolis, will begin his first oval-track race ever in scratch, or 23rd position. A rare problem with the fuel system caused his Allied Building Products Corp. No. 25 to refuse to fire for the qualifying session, so Hildebrand was unable to make a qualifying attempt.
"What happened was the fuel-line disconnect popped off sometime after we went through tech," explained RLR/Andersen Racing co-owner John Andersen. "You're not allowed to do anything to the car after it goes through tech, so we didn't know we had a problem until J.R. tried to start the car for qualifying. There wasn't anything we could do about it; it was just one of those things."
Earlier in the day Prendeville "won" practice, as he set the fastest time run during either of the two-hour practice sessions. His tenth lap in the first practice session (28.6783 for an average speed of 186.413 mph) was the fastest lap any of the 23 drivers ran in the 1,262 total laps they turned in prac tice.
Hildebrand ended up 15th on the combined practice sessions report with a 29.0685 (183.910 mph) that he ran on his fourth lap of the 31 laps he completed in the first practice session. He was 12th overall in that first session.
Prendeville was fifth overall in the second practice session later in the afternoon when the temperatures were higher, posting a 28.8959 (185.009 mph) on his third of 22 laps he ran that time. Hildebrand was 17th overall in that session, also run on his third lap, with a 29.2203 (182.955 mph), but he only got to run 14 laps in that session due to an incident between Turn 3 and 4 when he cut a tire and nicked the inside wall. He made a nice save to keep the damage minimal, and after the crew replaced the car's front wing and its tires Hildebrand was able to continue in the session.
Tomorrow afternoon's race will be covered live on the Internet at indycar.com/pro, and also at 4 p.m. April 3 on ESPN2. All times are Eastern.
After tomorrow's season opener at Homestead the Firestone Indy Lights Series will compete in a doubleheader that is part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, on that Florida city's street course. Those races will be carried live on indycar.com/pro and also shown on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. April 10.
RLR/Andersen Racing is sponsored by Allied Building Products Corp. It is the development team of Rahal Letterman Racing. Its Web sites are at andersenracingteam.com and andersenracepark.com.
Prendeville also represents the Best Friends Animal Society (see racinglapsforbestfriends.com), while Hildebrand's sponsors include Mockett.com and Formotion Products.
Post-qualifying quotes follow:
Andrew Prendeville: "I thought it was a good run; it was a lot better than we did in qualifying here last year. Last year we started 21st and finished fifth in the race.
"Last year we ran well in a lot of the races but we didn't always qualify well. This year we really wanted to qualify better, and tonight we did.
"For a little bit I was on the pole, but by the time I got my helmet off I was second, and I ended up fourth.
"The team is doing a great job."
J.R. Hildebrand: "The problem in qualifying was nobody's fault. The team has been doing a great job. We had a problem with the fuel system that made us unable to get out for qualifying, that's all.
"Earlier in the day I had a big save between 3 and 4 when a tire went down. I just flicked the front wing plate on the inside wall. I brought it in and the crew got me back out quickly. It felt good afterwards. I think for the race tomorrow we should be just fine."