IRL: Indy 500: Rahal Letterman Racing day five report

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING DRIVERS MAKE BIG SPEED GAINS IN THIRD DAY OF INDY PRACTICE INDIANAPOLIS - A sundrenched Thursday turned out to be the busiest of the week so far for Rahal Letterman Racing drivers Scott Sharp ( ...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING DRIVERS MAKE BIG SPEED GAINS IN THIRD DAY OF INDY PRACTICE

INDIANAPOLIS - A sundrenched Thursday turned out to be the busiest of the week so far for Rahal Letterman Racing drivers Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone), but the hard work paid off as both drivers made big improvements in the third day of practice for this year's Indianapolis 500. Sharp's Patron squad lopped two-tenths of a second off its previous best time, stopping the clocks at 40.1974 seconds (223.895 mph). Simmons also found speed and posted his best time of the week, logging a time of 40.5950 seconds (221.702 mph), breaking the 221-mph barrier for the first time this month.

A full day of running allowed the RLR team to work its magic on the Indy Cars, and Sharp and Simmons responded by adding more than a mile-per-hour each to their best times of the month. They did it over a long day of running that saw Sharp turn 61 laps with Simmons making 81 trips around the 2.5-mile Indy oval - their highest number of laps of the month.

"We made some good changes this afternoon," Sharp smiled. "It was nice to see a few things come together and make the car better. It should give us a faster race car not only here, but also for some of the other tracks as well."

Simmons was part of a late flurry of activity over the last 20 minutes of the session that saw the Boston College graduate break into the 220-mph range for the first time this month, only to burst into the 221 range two laps later.

"Our confidence level went up a lot with the car getting better today," Simmons said. "I really think we'll be peaking at the right time as the qualifying weekend approaches."

Both teams have taken a methodical approach to preparation for this weekend's qualifying and have been showing improvement each day as Saturday's Pole Day looms.

"We haven't really been looking at the time charts because we know where we are as a team and what we've been working on," admitted Simmons. "Now I think we are close to the point where we can start showing what we have. You don't gain anything by trying to go out and be fast if the car isn't right. That usually causes more damage than good. We feel things are going well and hope to prove it this weekend."

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Jeff Simmons