Rahal Letterman Racing Duo Begin Preparations For Indianapolis 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - In open-wheel racing parlance, the month of May means one thing. It tells racers that it is time to gear up for one of the world's legendary races and ...
Rahal Letterman Racing Duo Begin Preparations For Indianapolis 500
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - In open-wheel racing parlance, the month of May means one thing. It tells racers that it is time to gear up for one of the world's legendary races and Rahal Letterman Racing drivers Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) are more than ready to take their best shots at the Indianapolis 500 title.
Full-field practice opened today for the 91st running of the Indy 500, with Sharp and Simmons both taking to the 2.5-mile oval for the first full day of running. The team started its month-long trip to Indianapolis in conservative fashion, sending Simmons out to do baseline setup work in his backup car, while Sharp ran his primary car in a number of configurations as the veteran team prepared for this weekend's first two rounds of qualifying.
Sharp led the way in the RLR camp on the first day of practice, stopping the clocks at 40.6999 seconds (221.131 mph) on the last of his 40 orbits of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2001 Indy 500 polesitter actually ran his three best laps of the six-hour practice on his last three passes.
"You are always searching for speed here no matter what, but we are happy with what we got done on our first day," said Sharp. "We set up a plan to take advantage of the three-week period we have here and it is important for us to learn as much as we can. To go out and turn quick laps at the end of the day was good for us, it allows us to end the day on a positive note and go after it tomorrow."
Simmons turned 64 laps on a warm and sunny day in Central Indiana, running his best time of 41.0820 seconds (219.074 mph) on his penultimate lap of the day. Simmons got an early break on the first day as the #17 Team Ethanol squad spent the later part of the afternoon converting the data gathered to Simmons' primary car while also executing an engine change that will allow Simmons to run his primary car in tomorrow's practice session.
"We came here with a different setup that we hadn't run in a long time and we've really been improving the car all day," Simmons reported. "We don't quite have the grip and the stability to the point where we can start taking downforce out of it yet but we are being methodical and working through all of our changes and it is working. We picked up some time through the day and we are at a good point to start again tomorrow."
Sharp ended up as the 16th-quickest driver on the final time sheets for the first day of practice, with Simmons checking as the 20th-fastest driver. Current IndyCar Series points leader Dan Wheldon led the first day of practice with a time of 39.9868 seconds (225.074 mph).