SCOTT SHARP WINS POLE AT TEXAS TO LEAD A PAIR OF TOP-EIGHT QUALIFIERS FOR RLR DALLAS/FORT WORTH - Using a pair of blazing laps that left nothing to chance, Scott Sharp ( ...
SCOTT SHARP WINS POLE AT TEXAS TO LEAD A PAIR OF TOP-EIGHT QUALIFIERS FOR RLR
DALLAS/FORT WORTH - Using a pair of blazing laps that left nothing to chance, Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) broke the longest pole drought in Rahal Letterman Racing history Friday afternoon in taking the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award for Saturday's Bombardier/Learjet 550 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Sharp carded the two best laps of the day in afternoon qualifying, scoring his sixth career IndyCar pole with a best time of 24.3334 seconds (215.260 mph) around the 1.5-mile oval. Both of Sharp's laps were quick enough to earn him the pole, which was the first for the Rahal Letterman Racing team since September of 2005. The pole run was the first for Sharp since 2001, breaking an 87-race streak without a pole - the longest current streak in the IndyCar Series.
"Wow, that sounds good. Polesitter," Sharp grinned. "It's been a long time since someone has said that. I just can't say enough. We've been a little behind, no doubt, this year. Anyone that is not one of the top three teams is a little behind. The Patron Rahal Letterman team has been working really hard. The minute the guys rolled the car off the trailer, it has been right on. We've hadn't had to make a lot of changes and it worked well in race trim last night, as everybody did, I think, working that for the race. We had to make a few changes over night just to trim the car out a little bit but I'm really pleased. I never thought we'd run that quick."
But despite Sharp's surprise pole run, the day had even more good tidings in store for the RLR squad. Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) scored his best qualifying result of the 2007 season as well, snaring the eighth spot with a best time of 24.6154 seconds (212.794 mph). The qualifying spot is the second-best of his career and is his first top-10 grid spot since last year's season finale in Chicago.
"I'm pretty pleased. We went about the same as we did earlier and that's a good place to start for us," told Simmons. "Hopefully, we'll have a good car for the race tomorrow. Scotty really smoked everybody today so hopefully we can get some of that tomorrow. We've had good cars in the last couple of races so if we can follow that tomorrow, we can have a good day."
Sharp collected $10,000 from AAMCO Transmissions for winning today's pole, and also won a Toro lawn tractor for his performance.
Sharp will led the 20-car field to the green tomorrow night in a race that can be seen live on ESPN2 beginning at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
* Both of Sharp's laps today were good enough to take the Aamco Transmissions Pole, topped by a best effort of 215.260 mph (24.3334 seconds), marking the fastest pole speed at Texas since 2004 (Helio Castroneves).
* The pole is Sharp's sixth in his IndyCar career and his first with Rahal Letterman Racing. It is his first pole since pacing Kentucky qualifying in 2001. Is moves him into a tie for seventh on the all-time IndyCar polewinner list.
* It is the first pole for Rahal Letterman Racing since Danica Patrick sat on pole at Chicagoland Speedway in 2005. It is the team's 10th pole in IndyCar competition and the 30th in its long open-wheel racing history.
* It is the first pole ever for both Sharp and RLR at Texas Motor Speedway.
Quote from RLR General Manager Scott Roembke -- "I'm thrilled for both cars and very happy for Scott. We built up a lot of momentum in Indy and had good cars in Milwaukee and I think it is starting to pay off. This team over the last year-and-a-half has been through some tough times and it is good to see all the hard work pay off in this way."