IRL: Indy 500: Rahal Letterman Racing day nine practice report

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING GETS BACK TO WORK ON WINDY WEDNESDAY IN INDY INDIANAPOLIS - After a week's worth of Chamber of Commerce weather in Indianapolis, the second week of practice for this year's Indianapolis 500 featured more bluster than a ...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING GETS BACK TO WORK ON WINDY WEDNESDAY IN INDY

INDIANAPOLIS - After a week's worth of Chamber of Commerce weather in Indianapolis, the second week of practice for this year's Indianapolis 500 featured more bluster than a street-corner preacher.

High winds, low temperatures and heavy cloud cover made for a challenging day for Rahal Letterman Racing drivers Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone), who got back to work after leading Sunday's second-day qualifying for the Memorial Day Classic.

Simmons did the majority of the work on Wednesday, as the RLR teams spent the day digging deeper into a race-day setup for both the Patron- and the Ethanol-sponsored cars. Sharp ran one 10-lap stint early in the day before relinquishing the day's duties to Simmons, who turned 55 orbits of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"We did a couple of full-tank stints today, made some changes to Jeff's car and we feel that our times are right there with the rest of the field when they weren't getting a tow," said team manager Steve Dickson. "On the 8 car, we went out for one run and then with the weather being the way it was, we decided to focus our changes on one car and see what we could use."

Simmons turned a fastest lap of 41.2164 seconds (218.360 mph) during his second stint, and discovered some things that he feels will help both teams for the race on May 27.

"The car was pretty good over the long runs today and it actually seemed to get stronger as the run went on," Simmons said. "We need to get the car a little more consistent in the high winds, as the winds were really making it tough in Turn One. But the car felt great on the rest of the track and I think that we are getting things close to what we want to see."

Sharp ran just the aforementioned 10 laps, with a best time of 42.1089 seconds (213.732 mph). He also ran on full tanks and will be joining the rest of the field for another day of practice on Thursday, with the track open from noon to 6:00 p.m.

The high winds were a challenge for the drivers today but neither pilot spent any time worrying about the grip as the Firestone Firehawks held up well under trying conditions. The sun actually made a few cameo appearances today, heating up the track in some spots before quickly yielding to clouds that cooled things back down. Despite the tricky conditions, Simmons reported that the tires were more than up to the task.

"We ran a full stint on a set of tires that already had eight laps on them, and they were still right there at the end of the run for us," he said. "If a set of tires that have already been heat-cycled and then sat around for a couple of days can hold up that well, I don't think we have anything to worry about for the race."

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Jeff Simmons