Indy 500: Rahal Letterman Racing day two report



INDIANAPOLIS - Practice for the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 got underway in earnest today as teams got nearly four full hours of practice in on a cloudy Central Indiana Sunday, and the #30 Quick Trim/RLR Special used that time to continue its climb up the speed sheets.

Graham Rahal made 48 orbits of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on Sunday, logging a best lap of 40.1212 seconds (224.320 mph) near the midpoint of the session, which put the team in the 10th spot at the end of the day's practice. The day was constantly under threat of rain as heavy clouds hovered over the track all afternoon, but the rains never made a serious dent in the practice plan of the Ohio-based team. Running in shorter stints to allow the Rahal Letterman Racing crew to analyze data and suggest changes allowed the purple-and-white car to steadily climb up the timing charts, which were headed by three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.

"We got some more speed out of it today but the biggest thing is that it is still early," Graham said. "There's more in it and we're on the conservative side among the teams out here. I think we all feel pretty good about where we are right now. Certainly there's more time and there are things that we haven't done yet that should mean more speed, but we're taking our time and getting to where we need to be."

The Quick Trim/RLR Special got an added bonus from today's weather, as the threat of rain caused Indy Car officials to start the 3 p.m. practice 45 minutes early in order to beat the expected watery onslaught. But those rains held off until after 5:30, which allowed the team to stretch an anticipated three hours of practice into nearly four. The session was a strong one for the RLR squad, as it was able to focus on smaller changes to find speed instead of having to making time-consuming wholesale changes. The length of the practice allowed Graham to run alone, as he will do in Saturday's four-lap qualifying, as well as in traffic--giving the team to a chance to analyze a number of different scenarios.

"I was pretty happy with the way the car felt today and how much we got done," Rahal remarked. "The Firestone Firehawks held up well under everything we threw at them and the consistency and grip we get from Firestone tires allows us to concentrate on making the car better. You know on a long day like this that the tires are one variable that you don't have to account for as they give us the same effort stint after stint."

Practice for the Indy 500 will continue tomorrow at noon Eastern Time as the teams prepare for Saturday's pole qualifying. Fans can follow all of the action on and can see Saturday and Sunday's qualifying live on Versus.

-source: rlr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Graham Rahal