IRL: Watkins Glen: Rahal Letterman Racing race report

JEFF SIMMONS BATTLES TO EARN A TOP-10 FINISH IN LEADING RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING EFFORTS AT WATKINS GLEN WATKINS GLEN, New York - Picking yourself up after one suffers a setback requires more than the normal amount of effort--especially when you...

JEFF SIMMONS BATTLES TO EARN A TOP-10 FINISH IN LEADING RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING EFFORTS AT WATKINS GLEN

WATKINS GLEN, New York - Picking yourself up after one suffers a setback requires more than the normal amount of effort--especially when you are piloting a 675hp Indy Car on a 90-degree day around one of the most demanding road courses in the United States.

But Jeff Simmons (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) showed his mettle on a tough day in Watkins Glen, fighting all day to work his way into the top half of the IndyCar Series field to score a top-10 result in Sunday's Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix.

Simmons led the Rahal Letterman Racing effort at the Glen, fighting off the late-race advances of Danica Patrick to take the 10th spot, and more importantly, ending a tough two-race streak that had seen him drop to 15th in the point standings.

"It was a good race for us," Simmons smiled. "I was fairly pleased with where we finished and the car was a lot better in the race than it was in the warmup and we were competitive. The guys did a great job with the car. We put in a solid effort, we raced hard all day long and we got a top 10. It was good to bounce back from the last couple races where we had some bad luck. We want to be in the top 10 every week and this is a good start for us."

Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) fought through a trying day as well, but finished on the lead lap for the third consecutive race while earning a 14th-place finish.

The two RLR cars tried some different pit strategies early in today's 60-lap race, with Simmons pitting on Lap 9, while Sharp was the second car to pit, his stop coming on Lap 12. But the strategies never paid the dividends they were designed for, as while both cars were able to climb into the top half of the field at various stages, the yellow flags that would have helped the cause never came.

Sharp's effort did keep him ensconced in the seventh spot in the championship standings, and he actually gained positions on sixth-placed Helio Castroneves, who crashed while leading on Lap 20. The incident left the polesitter to finish 18th and allowed Sharp to draw to within 18 points of Castroneves, despite the team's trying day.

"Really tough day from the start," lamented Sharp. "The car was handling pretty good but something seemed off. I'd come out of Turn One with the best speed I've had all week, and we'd be 10mph down going down the backstraight which made it tough. Of course it hurts you at the end of other straights as well. But we were able to keep pace with some other cars and we had to keep it fighting and bring it home to get some points."

Simmons moved into a tie for 14th with Ed Carpenter after scoring his fifth top-10 finish of the season. The result put him three points behind Darren Manning for 13th and moved him to within 29 points of a top-10 berth in the standings.

-credit: rlr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Jeff Simmons , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter