RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING NARROWLY MISSES QUALIFYING ON FIRST DAY AT INDY INDIANAPOLIS - Rahal Letterman Racing drivers Scott Sharp ( ...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING NARROWLY MISSES QUALIFYING ON FIRST DAY AT INDY
INDIANAPOLIS - Rahal Letterman Racing drivers Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) led the Patron and Ethanol squads to a new level of speed during Saturday's first round of qualifying for this year's Indianapolis 500, but despite running their best four-lap speeds of the week, both came up just short of locking up a spot in the race field on the first of four days of qualifying.
Both drivers made vast improvements over their morning practice times during their first qualifying runs, but were bumped out late in the second hour of the session, leaving each team to attempt a second four-lap run in the final hour of Pole Day qualifying, but came up just short, forcing the teams to go after it again in tomorrow's second round at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"It was a great effort by the guys," Sharp said after his four-lap average of 222.743 mph left him a microscopic .045 mph shy of knocking Michael Andretti out of the day's final spot. "It was very close. On the last lap we slid just a little off of Turn Two and the exit speed was just a tick off and that's where I think we lost it. The attitude of the Rahal Letterman team was phenomenal. Nobody gave up. They raised the level of commitment even higher. Their determination was higher and professionalism was better than any team that I have ever been on. We put our best four laps out there in qualifying and that is what you want to do."
Simmons made the biggest jump of the day in his first attempt, clocking in with a four-lap average of 222.687 mph on a qualifying run that included his first 223-mph lap of the month. His effort left him 12th with one hour to go in the session, but with just 11 spots locked up on the first day, the team rolled the dice.
Simmons turned four straight laps over 222.1 mph, but came up just short as well, and will join Sharp in looking to snare a spot in the field on Sunday.
"We just didn't have the speed today but we'll come back tomorrow and try and get it," said Simmons. "We made good progress this morning and now we know we can compete. The guys did a great job and made great choices on the car after the first practice."
Sunday's format will see the field start over from ground zero, with each car getting three attempts as spots 12-22 are locked up, with qualifying beginning at noon.