RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TEAMS NARROWLY ESCAPE INDY RAIN FOR FULL DAY OF PRACTICE INDIANAPOLIS - Cool, blustery weather again put its stamp on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday, affecting track time at the venerable 2.5-mile oval for the...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TEAMS NARROWLY ESCAPE INDY RAIN FOR FULL DAY OF PRACTICE
INDIANAPOLIS - Cool, blustery weather again put its stamp on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday, affecting track time at the venerable 2.5-mile oval for the fifth time in the last six scheduled days.
The only saving grace was that the rains finally waited until after the day was complete before splashing through Central Indiana, giving Rahal Letterman Racing some much-needed practice time as it continues to work toward Saturday's second round of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.
The RLR pit crew started the day by showing that it was not at all affected by the poor weather as the team earned its way into the McDonald's Indy 500 Pit Stop Competition - to be held on May 23. The former two-time winners of the CART Pit Stop championship and the 1992 and 2004 winners of the Indy 500 competition, Rahal Letterman had to compete in a four-way time trial shootout to take one of the two outstanding spots for next week's competition. Today's time trial consisted of a simulated fuel stop and two-tire change, after which the driver had to roar out of the pit stall and across a timing line that determined the exact finishing time for the entry.
Hunter-Reay and the #17 car posted the best time in the trial, topping a pair of cars from Andretti Green Racing and one from Panther Racing. An eight-second stop turned the trick for the Ethanol car, moving the team into next week's outing along with the #7 machine of Motegi winner Danica Patrick
Heavy cloud cover and high, swirling winds were the order of the day but IndyCar Series teams could not afford to look at the radar after the last two scheduled days had been all but totally wiped out by rain. Both Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Alex Lloyd (#16 Nintendo WiiFit Dallara/Honda/Firestone) took full advantage of the track time to put in more than five hours of practice in preparation for their first Indy 500 appearances.
Both drivers put in their first full days since suffering their first on-track accidents at Indianapolis last weekend. Hunter-Reay ran one lap yesterday while Lloyd turned a baker's dozen, but they made up for it today with long runs, short runs and everything in between as the teams searched for speed. Lloyd turned 97 laps with a best time of 221.274 mph (40.6735 seconds) while Hunter-Reay's 63 laps showed a best of 218.400 mph (41.2087 seconds). Lloyd made his first full-day appearance in his new green-and-white livery today, sporting the colors of Nintendo's new WiiFit exercise and training apparatus.
The Rahal Letterman Chip Ganassi entry of Lloyd and the Ethanol RLR car of Hunter-Reay will have another full day of practice tomorrow, which will be the final one before Saturday's qualifying fills the 33-car field for the May 25 race. Since last Sunday's qualifying was washed out, this Saturday 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.