IRL: Iowa: Rahal Letterman Racing test day notes



NEWTON, Iowa--Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) no longer holds the distinction of being one of the few drivers to have tested on the new Iowa Speedway oval, as the entire 19-car field for this weekend's inaugural Iowa Corn Indy 250 snuck in ninety minutes of testing time on a blustery Friday.

Sharp and his Rahal Letterman Racing Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) got nearly halfway through a schedule four-hour test session on the progressively-banked 0.875-mile speedway before rain and stormy conditions called a halt to the proceedings. Simmons was the quicker of the two and was 10th overall on a day when 17 of the 19 Indy Cars were separated by just 0.397 seconds.

Simmons ran the most laps (115) of any car in the field on the day, carding a best lap of 17.7872 seconds (180.939 mph). Sharp was 13th on the final speed sheet, logging in with a best time of 17.8435 seconds (180.368 mph).

"I think we had a good day, we worked on our race-day setup a lot and I feel pretty good about it," Simmons said. "Early in the day I was using up a lot of the track, trying the different lines through the corner. You do notice it a little when you cross over the transitions in the banking, but you are going to have to be able to cross those during the race because you will need to do that in order to get through traffic."

Sharp has the lead on the IndyCar field in terms of Iowa experience, both in Newton and in the state capital of Des Moines. Sharp was one of three drivers that had tested on the Iowa Speedway oval in the offseason, but the locals still revere him for the display he put on downtown during the 1993 Trans-Am event that he dominated on his way to a second-consecutive Trans-Am championship. He will contain himself strictly to the short oval this weekend however, and believes that he and his team learned some things on Friday despite the rain-shortened outing.

"We had a good day. We picked up where we left off when we were here in the fall," Sharp said. "A lot of the guys leaned it out and went for a fast time, while we never did that. I'm pretty pleased. I think the car is pretty good and I am confident that we will get it where we want to be if we keep working."

The Iowa Corn Indy 250 begins in earnest tomorrow with each driver getting two hours of practice time with the first session set to start at 10:30 a.m. Central Time. The practice will set the stage for single-car qualifying for the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award, which takes place at 5:15 p.m. Central Time.

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Jeff Simmons