IRL: Watkins Glen: Rahal Letterman Racing Friday report

MEIRA LEADS RAHAL TRIO ON FIRST DAY AT WATKINS GLEN WATKINS GLEN, NY - Vitor Meira paced the Rahal Letterman Racing trio posting the seventh fastest lap at 128.658 mph. Meira, currently seventh in the championship, enters the race weekend having...

MEIRA LEADS RAHAL TRIO ON FIRST DAY AT WATKINS GLEN

WATKINS GLEN, NY - Vitor Meira paced the Rahal Letterman Racing trio posting the seventh fastest lap at 128.658 mph. Meira, currently seventh in the championship, enters the race weekend having posted the top RLR result in ten of the 15 races this season.

"We had a pretty good run, but I really wanted that last lap before the checkered flag," said Meira. "We had at least a second left in the car and that would have put us near the top of the speed chart. We had a lot of push (understeer) in the car early in the afternoon session, but the car became better and better. In the morning session, we sat out a lot just because we didn't want be too aggressive and do something stupid. I think at least half the guys had trouble in the rain. We didn't want to get in that mix. The rain is always a different animal. I tested a Formula 3 car in the rain last summer so I have some recent experience. But the last time I ran a race weekend in the rain was at Monza (Italy) in F-3000 in 2002. Man, that is a wild ride at that place."

Buddy Rice comes to Watkins Glen having posted a season best of second at the last ILR IndyCar Series road race at Infineon Raceway. Rice posted the twelfth fastest time with a lap of 126.791 mph.

"In the rain, we didn't make the most of our opportunity this morning," said Rice. "The car was pretty good and I was trying a little too hard. To be honest, the last time I drove in the rain was at Houston in 2000 in an Atlantic car. I can tell you that an Indy car is much different than an Atlantic. It's heavier and more powerful. So it can be a handful. In the afternoon, we were getting better in the dry. We didn't run stickers (tires) in the afternoon and I'm sure we had some more time in the car. It is exciting running here at a legendary track like the Glen. So many great drivers have competed here. It is a thrill to race at a place with such history. I hope I can be a part of it on Sunday."

Danica Patrick had a long first day at Watkins Glen finishing 18th on the speed chart with a lap of 122.761 mph.

"We really struggled to find a consistent car today," said Patrick. "Some of that might be due to the weather, but we face a challenge finding that consistency. We lost some time this morning due to a couple of minor technical matters on the car, but everyone is behind because of the rain session. Based on our test and what we learned about the car at Infineon I thought we would be farther along. With my lack of experience on road courses in the bigger cars it is tough to catch up. We made some significant gains at Infineon from Friday to Saturday and we will have to do that again."

Helio Castroneves topped the charts with a fast lap of 130.696 mph. Tony Kanaan was second with a lap of 130.619 mph.

Practice and qualifying resume tomorrow with the inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage scheduled for 3:30 pm Sunday on ABC.

-rlr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Buddy Rice , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira