SIMMONS LEADS RLR QUALIFYING AT MILWAUKEE WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Jeff Simmons, Rahal Letterman Racing's rookie driver for the No. 17 Team Ethanol Honda/Dallara/Firestone qualified sixth at Milwaukee, marking the best start for the Ethanol ...
SIMMONS LEADS RLR QUALIFYING AT MILWAUKEE
WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Jeff Simmons, Rahal Letterman Racing's rookie driver for the No. 17 Team Ethanol Honda/Dallara/Firestone qualified sixth at Milwaukee, marking the best start for the Ethanol entry. Simmons, the first qualifier of the afternoon session posted a fast lap at 170.592 mph. Simmons effort topped the ninth place qualifying effort the late-Paul Dana established in qualifying at Homestead.
"I am proud of the Team Ethanol crew for their effort this weekend. We trimmed out the car a little bit for more speed and the car pushed a little more than in this morning's practice. But overall this is a very good performance with the Dallara chassis. It is nice to continue the progress with the chassis. The way the field is so competitive that you lose a tenth of the second and you could lose five positions. We were hoping to be in the top half of the field this weekend. That is a place we haven't been this year yet. It is a lot easier to run with the leaders when you start up at the front. It is tough coming to a place that you haven't tested and I am a rookie in the IndyCar Series. So I feel good that we got in a good qualifying run today. Now we have to get a good race setup for Sunday's race. That is a tough race here on the flat racing surface."
Buddy Rice piloted the No. 15 Argent Mortgage Honda/Dallara/Firestone to 13th on the starting grid with a fast lap of 169.407 mph.
"I was flat around here with just a little too much push. We can make the car better for the race. It is very good to see Jeff and Team Ethanol car up towards the front of the field. Jeff and I have working well together on our setups. For the last couple of rounds, we have been working well together on the new Dallara chassis. I think we are making gains each races. This place is a tough one to figure out. There is that fine line between a loose (oversteer) and push (understeer) chassis here at Milwaukee. Sam (Hornish Jr.) and Vitor (Meira) were really quick yesterday in race trim but we really weren't too far off their speeds. So I feel confident going into the race."
Danica Patrick qualified 14th, her lowest start on an oval since Richmond in 2005. Patrick battled severe understeer and qualified the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Dallara/Firestone with a fast lap of 169.274 mph.
"It might be a bit of an understatement to say that I am disappointed. I had zero grip and lots of understeer and so we just couldn't get around the corner. We just didn't hit it for qualifying this time, which is especially disappointing because the Argent Mortgage Honda was so good in the afternoon session yesterday. I guess I can take solace in that we were decent on the full tanks yesterday and so we should have a pretty decent race car for tomorrow."
Penske Racing swept the front row with Helio Castroneves winning the pole with a fast lap of 172.477 mph over points leader Sam Hornish Jr. Rookie Marco Andretti is third with Tony Kanaan fourth.
The ABC Supply AJ Foyt 225 can be seen live on ESPN Sunday starting at 1:30 pm Eastern.
-Rahal Letterman Racing