Rahal Letterman Lanigan Finds More Speed As Indy Qualifying Looms

INDIANAPOLIS (May 16, 2011) – The month of May at Indi­anapolis can throw a number of scenarios at a race team, so it pays divi­dends for a team to be prepared for every eventuality.

After a weekend of 80-degree temper­a­tures, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team was greeted Monday by windy and cool condi­tions at the Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway, forcing the team to alter their prac­tice plans a bit for drivers Bertrand Baguette (#30 RACB/Aspria Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jay Howard (#88 Service Central Dallara/Honda/Firestone). The Sam Schmidt/RLL team, choosing to ensure that its tire allot­ment would be there when it counted, chose to keep the #88 car in the garage Monday while the #30 machine went out on a fact-finding mission in the breezy conditions.

Baguette’s outing yielded a trea­sure trove of good infor­ma­tion about the 2.5-mile IMS oval as he logged a best time of 223.429 mph (40.2813 seconds) in just his second day of prac­tice. The time was fourth-best on the charts at the moment he hung it on the board, and it ended up being 17th fastest of the 39 cars that turned laps.

“We could have weather like this in qual­i­fying or on race day, so you have to be able to run in it,” said Baguette. “The car was moving around out there with the wind but it wasn’t that tough. I like what we are doing with the car and with our plan, and I think we are getting there.”

Baguette made 21 trips around the IMS oval today, and posted his fastest time on his 21st and final lap.

“It was a good day for us, we made a good bit of progress on one car, while making sure that we aren’t wasting our tire allot­ment, so we will have them when we need them,” said 1986 Indy 500 cham­pion Bobby Rahal. “Bertrand got another day in the car and another day to work with the engi­neers, and that is impor­tant. So far, it has been a good start to the week.”

Baguette, who is looking to make his second Indi­anapolis 500 start after making his maiden appear­ance last year with Conquest Racing, was encour­aged by the day’s perfor­mance as well.

“I think it was another good day for us,” Baguette reported. “We keep improving the car with every change, so we are headed the right way.”

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars now have five days of prac­tice avail­able leading into Saturday’s first qual­i­fying day. The field will be final­ized on Bump Day, May 22nd, with the race taking place May 29.

Today’s 100th anniver­sary Indy 500 fun fact

In 1957, race winner Sam Hanks rolled into Victory Lane and promptly retired from racing. Hanks never ran another Indy Car race, although he did making a qual­i­fying attempt at Indy in 1957. Hanks is the last driver to win Indy in the final race of his career.