IRL: Indy 500: Rahal Letterman Racing Second-Day Qualifying report



INDIANAPOLIS - Rahal Letterman Racing drivers Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) had to come back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for another day of work Sunday, so they decided to make it worth their while.

Having narrowly missed a chance to qualify yesterday for the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500, Sharp and Simmons led the way in Sunday's second round, putting up the best four-lap average speeds of the day with Sharp taking the honors as the fastest of the day.

Sharp was the first driver on track when the qualifying session opened and he let everyone know right away that it was not going to be an easy day for those chasing him. The black-and-green Patron car snapped off a lap of 224.214 mph to start the run and Sharp kept his foot in it for four orbits of the 2.5-mile rectangle, carding a qualifying speed of 223.875 mph - a time that would have put him ninth on the grid yesterday. His time was the fastest of the day and gave him the 12th spot on the grid for the race.

"I knew our car was real strong during the warmup lap. I knew right then that I just had to hold it down and we were going to have a good result," Sharp said. "Our qualifying position doesn't change our strategy for the race. We didn't come out here to win qualifying, we came to win the Indianapolis 500. It was a great run by the team. We keep getting smarter about the car and the guys keep making it better. They never give up, they just work even harder."

Simmons followed soon after with four very consistent laps in the 223-mph range, starting with a lap at 223.894 mph and building a four-lap average of 223.683 mph to slot in directly behind Sharp in the qualifying order. The effort earned the Connecticut native the 13th starting spot in the field, marking his best-ever grid position at Indy.

"Today was very satisfying. The car was a lot more consistent today and it was an easier run. I was pretty busy in the car yesterday but what we learned from that really helped us today," Simmons said. "We found a lot on my car. They're small in the grand scheme of things, but at this place, small things can make a big difference. The Rahal Letterman team has done a great job across the board. Scott's car is strong and we are really building toward a great race setup. "

The team took the rest of the day to evaluate data as the drivers took a well-deserved break. The RLR squad will be back on track Wednesday afternoon as practice re-opens from noon to 6:00 p.m.

"The guys worked especially hard this week and we are pleased to have both cars firmly in the race," said RLR General Manager Scott Roembke. "We'll get some rest and come back out ready to make this car even better for the race."

-credit: rlr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Jeff Simmons