IRL: Richmond: Rahal Letterman Racing Friday report

Rain KO's Qualifying at Richmond RICHMOND, Virginia - Persistent rain showers aborted qualifying for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway. RLR drivers Danica Patrick and Jeff Simmons had already logged their...

Rain KO's Qualifying at Richmond

RICHMOND, Virginia - Persistent rain showers aborted qualifying for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway. RLR drivers Danica Patrick and Jeff Simmons had already logged their qualifying efforts prior to the showers, but they along with their teammate Buddy Rice and the other 16 IndyCar Series drivers will grid based on practice times.

Buddy Rice will start 14th based on his practice time of 170.056 mph in the No. 15 Argent Mortgage Honda/Dallara/Firestone.

"I guess we will have to take our practice times today," said Rice. "We thought we might be a little quicker for qualifying. But this is a long race with 250 laps, so if you have a good racecar, you can move to the front. With the rain, the conditions could change the track for Saturday, plus, racing at night here is a unique event. The track gets cooler and the rubber builds up on the surface. A lot of times this place gets slick during the race and the cars get loose (oversteer). So we have to dial in some push (understeer) at the beginning to prepare for the conditions throughout the race. I think we'll be able to get a car that will work in cooler weather. Of course, you want a car that is good in traffic here. When other cars get loose, the drivers have to slow down and that is a good time to take advantage. That will be our plan for Saturday night."

Danica Patrick will start 15th based on her practice lap of 169.880 mph. Patrick was pleased with her car after she completed her qualifying effort in the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Dallara/Firestone.

"I was pretty happy with my qualifying run in the No. 16 Argent/Honda," said Patrick. "I carried more throttle during that run than any other run since I have been here. Although the time wasn't quite as quick as what I turned this morning, I'll chalk that up to the weather conditions falling off. We did improve this morning during the practice sessions, but we still have a way to go with this new Dallara. That said we are seeing the light. The changes we are making are similar to what we made with the Panoz. We aren't super fast yet, but that will come."

Rookie Jeff Simmons will start 16th after his fast lap of 168.303 mph. Simmons will make his fifth start of the season in the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Team Ethanol Honda/Dallara/Firestone.

"I have never been here before so I guess I am a truly rookie at Richmond," said Simmons. "It was good we got some laps in on Thursday and we were able to improve the car each time out for practice. The track cooled off a little and that helped the car a little, but overall we are learning about the Dallara car every time we take it on the track. I guess we have to consider where we are with this car as opposed to the other teams. Many have run Dallara's for years and here we are in just our second race. I know 250 laps around this place will be a long race. We have to been comfortable for the long stints on these tires. We felt about the same with new tires and old ones. I know that sounds weird but the car really doesn't feel that different right now. That kind of shows our learning curve with this new car. The Team Ethanol crew has worked so hard in the last month to get the car together after running the Panoz for so long. I hope we can get the cars strong for the race. That is the direction we have been working. Qualifying is nice but we are working on the race."

Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves, the series points leader, is on the pole having turned a fast 173.472 mph, edging Scott Sharp of Fernandez Racing who posted a lap of 172.712 mph.

Warm-up, postponed from Friday night, will be at 2:00 pm Saturday followed by the SunTrust Indy Challenge which will be run at 8:00 pm Eastern live on ESPN2.

-rlr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Buddy Rice , Jeff Simmons , Danica Patrick
Teams Team Penske