PATRICK LEADS RLR QUALIFYING AT NASHVILLE LEBANON, Tenn. - Rahal Letterman Racing's progress with the Dallara chassis continued at Nashville Friday as Danica Patrick claimed a top-ten start and Buddy Rice qualified eleventh and Jeff Simmons ...
PATRICK LEADS RLR QUALIFYING AT NASHVILLE
LEBANON, Tenn. - Rahal Letterman Racing's progress with the Dallara chassis continued at Nashville Friday as Danica Patrick claimed a top-ten start and Buddy Rice qualified eleventh and Jeff Simmons 15th.
Patrick posted a fast lap of 200.283 mph in the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Dallara/Firestone which qualified her for a top-ten start for the first time since Indianapolis. Patrick started on the front row at Nashville in 2005 and led 11 laps en route to a seventh place finish.
"In hindsight we probably should have started my qualifying run the second time by," said Patrick. "The last warm-up lap and the first qualifying lap were the fastest, but that's alright because we always play it a little bit safe just in case you need a little bit of time to build up. All in all that was probably about where we were going to end up because we went about that speed this morning in practice. We certainly have had one of our better days with the Dallara chassis. We are continuing to make progress with the cars and that is just the result of a lot of hard work by everyone at Rahal Letterman Racing.
Buddy Rice will start eleventh after posting a fast lap of 200.274 mph. Rice, who captured the pole at Nashville in 2004, spent the day working on race set-up while his teammates Patrick and Simmons worked on the qualifying set-up.
"We were working on race setup all day and then we threw a qualifying setting on it," said Rice. "This was the first time I ran qualifying setup all day. It was good to run that number in the heat of the day. We are going with a similar plan that we had at Kansas. There we worked on race setups and it helped us. Jeff put on our setup at Kansas and he and I ran together in the top ten all day there. I think we can do it again for Saturday night. It is a tough process to develop the Dallara in the middle of the season but our engineering staff is working hard and doing a good job. I think we can get the No. 15 Argent Honda up towards the front. This place is tough to pass but I think we can make our car to work in traffic."
Jeff Simmons qualified the No. 17 Team Ethanol Honda/Dallara/Firestone in 15th position. Simmons is making his first IndyCar Series start at Nashville after having run three races at the track in the Indy Pro Series.
"The run was okay," said Simmons. "We have a good direction now with the Dallara. We are not where we want to be but we are improving. The car feels pretty comfortable and we'll work on it some more with the final practice session at night. This is the first time we'll race here at 8 p.m. and it should be a little cooler for race conditions. In the past, the racing here was at 6 p.m. and the track and air temps are not that much cooler. I think the race will be pretty interesting under lights."
Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon captured the pole with a fast lap of 203.293 mph edging points leader Sam Hornish Jr. (202.362 mph) of Penske Racing. Scott Dixon of Ganassi is third on the grid followed by Helio Castroneves of Penske.
The Firestone Indy 200 will be broadcast live on ESPN Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.