PATRICK TAKES FOURTH AT NASHVILLE SIMMONS POSTS A CAREER BEST SEVENTH IN THE MUSIC CITY LEBANON, Tenn. - Danica Patrick equaled her best IndyCar Series finish of fourth and rookie Jeff Simmons posted his top IndyCar Series finish of seventh as...
PATRICK TAKES FOURTH AT NASHVILLE
SIMMONS POSTS A CAREER BEST SEVENTH IN THE MUSIC CITY
LEBANON, Tenn. - Danica Patrick equaled her best IndyCar Series finish of fourth and rookie Jeff Simmons posted his top IndyCar Series finish of seventh as Rahal Letterman Racing posted one of its strongest outings of the season. RLR's third driver Buddy Rice ran a strong race, but succumbed to an electrical problem midway through the event.
Patrick overcame a whirlwind week of media scrutiny with a stellar run matching her best IndyCar Series result. Starting tenth, Patrick moved through the field and ran as high as second en route to posting her top finish of the season
"Tonight's run was a product of a labor," said Patrick. "The Argent crew has been working hard to get the new Dallara chassis competitive and tonight we saw the result of that work. I am happy for the crew and the team overall. They had great pit stops and the car was working well in the second half of the race. That's what it takes to be competitive this series. One of these times we are going to win one. We just need to hang around more often with the leaders. I knew it was very difficult to go around people on the high side. I didn't want to run high. So I stayed on the low side and the car ran extremely well. I had to protect the inside because no one wanted to go high tonight. If you got in the high line, you picked up the marbles near the wall and then you couldn't go anywhere for a few laps. On the first restart, I got caught off guard and I didn't heat up the tires enough, but on the other restarts I was ready and I think I made a couple of good moves. It is good to be back up in the top five again. If we can run with these guys up in the front, we can get a win. Now I want to do that the rest of the year."
Jeff Simmons started 15th but ran his best race of the season and finished seventh. In Simmons topping his career best IndyCar finish (tenth) from Kansas, Simmons has posted back-to-back top-ten results.
"We wanted to build on our tenth place finish at Kansas," said Simmons. "I think we did that with a seventh place tonight. We started off with a lot of understeer and we fixed that pretty much on the first pit stop with a front wing adjustment. We made the car competitive and we were able to run with many of the guys out there. We got a lap down early before the first stop and we almost got it back with the yellow on Sam's (Hornish) crash. But we had to pit first for fuel or we would have run out. Then we came back in for tires and more fuel. I am proud of the guys on Team Ethanol and how this crew has bounced back from all of the problems earlier in the year."
Buddy Rice's tough luck season continued as the 2004 Indy 500 champion suffered his fifth DNF of the 2006 season when an electrical problem sidelined the No. 15 Argent Mortgage Honda/Dallara/Firestone.
"Well, our bad luck continues," said Rice. "We had an electrical glitch early in the race and I didn't know what was wrong. The car wasn't bad and we had made a front wing adjustment on the pit stop. I came out of the pit and the car felt great and then we just lost power. The crew looked the car over and we tried a new battery and some other internal wires but the car just wouldn't start. I don't really know what to say. Every time we get the Dallara running pretty well, something seems to happens. We just can't dodge the bad luck with the No. 15 Argent Honda. Jeff (Britton, Rice's engineer) said we were turning the fastest laps after the pit stop and I was moving away from Dan (Wheldon, race leader). We were trying to stay on the lead lap and get into position to race with the front pack. Then boom, the day is over. We just seem to be snake bit with this weird luck."
Ganassi Racing stopped the Penske express. Scott Dixon led a one-two Ganassi sweep by edging his teammate Dan Wheldon. The win pulled Dixon to within five points of points leader Sam Hornish Jr. who posted his first DNF after crashing on lap 130.
The IRL IndyCar Series will resume with Round 10 of the 2006 season, the ABC Supply Company AJ Foyt Indy 225, next week at the Milwaukee Mile.