IRL: St. Pete: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING DUO SEEKING SUCCESS AT ST. PETERSBURG HILLIARD, Ohio - Round 2 of the 2007 IndyCar Series is a stop on the gulf coast for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. For RLR drivers Scott Sharp and Jeff Simmons St. Pete ...


HILLIARD, Ohio - Round 2 of the 2007 IndyCar Series is a stop on the gulf coast for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. For RLR drivers Scott Sharp and Jeff Simmons St. Pete represents a critical race after a problematic weekend at Homestead.

At Miami Jeff Simmons started 20th and moved up to 14th when he spun on lap 92 and crashed into the Turn 4 wall. Simmons incident collected two other drivers and ended his day prematurely. For Simmons it snapped a run of six top-ten results in his last seven races and seven straight running results.

"We need a result at St Pete," said Jeff Simmons, who saw a promising run end in a spin and contact. "The Ethanol car was quite a handful on our first stint, but the car was coming around a bit when we spun. It is disappointing for the team to see such an effort go for naught. We need to get a strong finish here at St. Pete. Right now I think we have a better car on the road courses than on oval, so hopefully we can take advantage of that. As a driver you want to put a result like Homestead behind you, but you can't forget the lessons that you learned."

For Sharp, the 1996 IndyCar Series champion, Homestead proved a challenge with an extremely loose Patron Tequila car.

"We made a lot of changes during the race and actually by the end of the race I had a decent car," said Sharp. "Early on the Patron Tequila Honda was quite a handful. There were a couple of times I almost lost it, but I always managed to hang on. We stayed out of trouble and came home with a 12th place result. Sure there are 11 drivers who feel better about their result, but there are also eight drivers who feel worse. Considering the problems we had early on, I am happy we brought the car home in one piece."

Sharp and Simmons tested this week at Sebring putting the Patron Tequila and Team Ethanol cars through some last minute paces for Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"We had a really strong test at Daytona on the road course and our test this week at Sebring was positive said Scott Sharp, driver of the Patron Tequila Honda/Dallara/Firestone. "It is very early in the season and there are a lot of laps yet to be run. There were a number of positives coming out of the Homestead weekend, and with the test I think we have some momentum to build on."

Big Week for Ethanol

The debut of the IndyCar Series running on 100-percent fuel grade Ethanol was national news. ABC World News Tonight featured the IndyCar Series and RLR's Jeff Simmons on Sunday night topping off a week of national attention focused on the greening of the IndyCar Series. Simmons earlier in the week joined IndyCar Series Founder and CEO Tony George in Washington D.C. for an event on Capital Hill with Indiana Senators Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh honoring the series for its efforts in promotion renewable fuels.

"It was a thrill to be part of such a big week for the Ethanol industry," said Jeff Simmons. "Hopefully we saved something to talk about for the month of May. Actually I think the Ethanol story will be even bigger when we get to Indianapolis. The national stage that Indy commands will just highlight the Ethanol and the Indy 500 all the more and should generate a sizable amount of media coverage for the IndyCar Series and Ethanol."

Club Patron drawing attention and visitors

The Patron Tequila car is drawing attention on the track for its visually striking and effective paint scheme and off the track Patron is creating a stir with its equally alluring Club Patron.

Unlike any other hospitality or sponsor area at Indy Racing League events, Club Patron is a two-level, fully-contained mobile event venue, all of which disassembles into pods and travels inside a specially-designed semi trailer. The club-atmosphere venue is open to invited guests before, during, or after the race, offering a relaxed place to unwind and visit, listen to music, and enjoy ultra-premium Patron tequila or Pyrat rum cocktails. The spacious club is fully staffed with bartenders and servers and features TV screens simulcasting the race, a bar, tables and chairs, and a circular stairway leading to a second floor observation deck.

"We could have put up some poles and a tent for our hospitality area, but quite simply, that wouldn't be Patron. The world's highest-quality tequila deserves the best, most comfortable venue we could build," says Ed Brown, president and CEO of the Las Vegas-based Patron Spirits Company. "Of course Club Patron is more than just a relaxing place to enjoy our products, we built this unique venue to help celebrate our sponsorship of Scott Sharp and the Rahal Letterman team, and the excitement of IndyCar racing."

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Jeff Simmons , Tony George , Ed Brown