RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING FINDS SPEED AT THE END OF INDY RAINBOW INDIANAPOLIS - There have been more than 22,500 miles turned by Indy Cars during the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - but for Rahal Letterman Racing, the next 10 are...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING FINDS SPEED AT THE END OF INDY RAINBOW
INDIANAPOLIS - There have been more than 22,500 miles turned by Indy Cars during the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - but for Rahal Letterman Racing, the next 10 are the ones that matter.
The team spent a trying day at the track today, but a day full of work yielded the sought-after speed at the very end of Friday's practice, getting both Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Alex Lloyd (#16 Nintendo WiiFit Dallara/Honda/Firestone) back in the hunt for tomorrow's second round of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.
Saturday's four-lap test around the 2.5-mile oval will fill the 12th through 33rd spots for the May 25 event, with Lloyd and Hunter-Reay needing to hang up a quick time tomorrow to ensure a strong starting spot for the 500-mile battle. Both drivers had times fast enough to get them in the top15 during last week's practice, but rains and a pair of accidents slowed progress - until this afternoon.
Today provided a welcome respite to the weather woes that have plagued Central Indiana for the last week, with early clouds giving way to bright sunshine and 70-degree temperatures. Unfortunately, the drastic climate change undid some of the work that was done yesterday, forcing the team to go back to the setup sheets.
"We struggled a bit today since the conditions made the car worse, but our guys kept their heads up and made it a very productive day," Lloyd said after putting up the 15th-best time of the day with a lap of 221.538 mph (40.6251 seconds). "We know we have a quick enough car for tomorrow. We know if we get the wing level where it needs to be with the right balance, we'll be fast. I'm confident that we can do that."
Hunter-Reay snapped off his fastest lap at the very end of the day - running on worn Firestones with no help from the draft - hanging up a best time of 218.633 mph (41.1649 seconds). His Ethanol team made a number of changes on the car today, and got back nearer the sweet spot at the end of the day - a move that brightened the mood considerably in the #17 camp.
"It came back to us at the end of the day and while I would have liked to have seen what sticker (new) tires would have done, I feel pretty good about the work we did today and am looking forward to tomorrow," Hunter-Reay related. "We can take the good work we did at the end of the day away with us tonight and work toward improving it even more tomorrow. We were fast last week, I am sure we will be fast again tomorrow."
The Rahal Letterman Chip Ganassi entry of Lloyd and the Ethanol RLR car of Hunter-Reay will prove their team's mettle in Saturday's qualifying, which fills the 33-car field for the May 25 race. Since last Sunday's qualifying was washed out, tomorrow will see spots 12-33 filled via four-lap qualifying beginning at noon. Any cars left out of the mix after Saturday will have a final chance with Sunday's Bump Day, after which the field will be locked in for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500. Qualifying will be preceded by a one-hour IndyCar Series practice session, which begins at 10:15 a.m.