IRL: Watkins Glen: Rahal Letterman Racing Saturday report

INCLEMENT WEATHER CANCELS INDYCAR QUALIFYING AT 'THE GLEN' WATKINS GLEN, NY -- Rahal Letterman Racing's driving trio have their work cut out for them after qualifying was cancelled when inclement weather forced a shuffling of the Saturday ...

INCLEMENT WEATHER CANCELS INDYCAR QUALIFYING AT 'THE GLEN'

WATKINS GLEN, NY -- Rahal Letterman Racing's driving trio have their work cut out for them after qualifying was cancelled when inclement weather forced a shuffling of the Saturday schedule. Buddy Rice will start 11th based on his fast lap of 131.481 mph on Friday. Jeff Simmons will start 13th, the best start of his IndyCar Series career, and Danica Patrick will start 16th.

Rice, the 2004 Indy 500 champion, is making his second IndyCar Series start at Watkins Glen. Rice was running a strong race in 2005, before he clipped the wall exiting the pits and cut short his day.

"The rain is something you have to expect up here at the Glen," said Rice. "I have raced here several times and it has seemed to rain every time. So you have to be ready for it. I know Jeff (Simmons) looked to be good in the rain and we should have a good rain setup if that happens on Sunday. We made a setup change for today and then we put on some slicks (tires). I drove it into Turn 1 pretty hard. You have to lean on the throttle to see where the traction edge is going to be and I obviously went over the edge a little. I hit a little wet spot and got the car sideways. The front end grabbed the curb and it went around. Everything is okay. No harm, no foul... with the No. 15 Argent Honda. You can make full wet and full dry setups but if it rains for the race, it will be whoever is the most comfortable in the wet. I think we have a good car for the race with either setup. We'll run in the morning and see how it plays out."

Jeff Simmons will be making his third start for RLR and his first start on a road or street course in the IndyCar Series. Simmons will start 13th based on his practice lap of 129.830 mph. On Saturday Simmons was eleventh quick running in wet conditions on the Firestone rain tires.

"We didn't learn a whole lot with the wet track," said Simmons. "It was drying out at the end and some guys were able to get a little speed with the slicks. We ran the slicks just to scrub off the stickers and be ready for the race. We were pretty good in the wet as we went to the top of the charts after two laps. I think we can be good if it rains. They call rain the great equalizer and I think that will be the case on Sunday. We were not able to work on the dry setup and we'll have to wait and see what happens with the forecast. The track is going to be green now too and that will make the setups different for the race. We were pretty good with Buddy's setup on Friday morning. We tried a few things in the afternoon and the car didn't respond the way we thought. So we will go back to what we had in the morning. This is a good place for me to come with my first road course race in an Indy car. I do have a lot of experience here in other forms of racing and the IPS car is closer to the Indy car on this track. It is challenging and demanding but it is some place that I know. This was only the second time in six years that I have run in the rain. But it felt comfortable and that is all I can asked for right now."

Danica Patrick will start 16th based on her practice time on Friday. The 2005 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year was eighth quick on Saturday posting a lap of 114.662 mph in the wet conditions.

"We definitely improved the No. 16 Argent Honda, but all the improvements were made running the Firestone rain tires. I feel pretty good about our rain set-up, which might play into our favor because there is a pretty good chance for rain tomorrow. This weekend is following a pattern similar to our weekend at St. Pete. We had our issues early on, but we improved the car over the weekend and by race day we had a decent car and we actually ended up with our best street course result. We are moving in the right direction. We will have our work cut out for us tomorrow since there wasn't qualifying and they will start the cars based on Friday's practice times. I'll have to be patient and pick my opportunities to pass and work my way forward."

Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves will start on the pole based on Friday's fast lap of 133.792 mph. Castroneves was 14th quick on Saturday in the wet conditions.

The Watkins Glen Indy GP is scheduled for Sunday at 3:30 pm and will be shown live on ABC.

-rlr-

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