Rahal Letterman Lanigan Opens Indy 500 Practice

INDIANAPOLIS (May 14, 2011) – The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu taught us that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

But the journey of 500 miles started with a handful of laps around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Rahal Letterman Lanigan drivers Bertrand Baguette (#30 RACB/Aspria Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jay Howard (#88 Service Central Dallara/Honda/Firestone) Saturday, with both drivers making the most of their first Indy Car outings of the 2011 season.

The team adhered to a fairly conservative program on their first sessions of the month, getting both Howard and Baguette comfortable in the car today, while providing a good baseline to build on over the next six days.

Baguette made 24 circuits of the venerable speedway with a best speed of 220.599 mph (40.7961 seconds) while Howard logged in a best effort of 219.896 mph (40.9280 seconds) in his 23-lap day. Baguette’s time was 22nd on the opening charts, while Howard’s was 29th. Both drivers were pleased with the results of the first day, and are looking forward to making more gains as the week progresses.

“The car feels really good. We got to run our refresher laps and got the work done that we needed to get done in that session,” Howard said. “The Service Central team has done a great job in getting the cars ready and I feel that there is a lot of speed left in the car. We will be working very hard over the next week to find that speed and get ourselves strongly into the field.”

The threat of rain hanging over Central Indiana tomorrow made it prudent for the RLL squads to run two sessions on the day, once before and once after a nearly two-hour rain delay. Both cars joined a handful of others that made laps after the rain stoppage, with Baguette shaving more than a tenth of a second off of his time from the early afternoon run. Both cars were planning for another run at 5:15 p.m. when a second set of rains came and ended the day’s practice.

“It was a good first day, I feel comfortable in the car, we didn’t have a tow and still did a pretty decent time so I feel good,” Baguette said. “It was important for me today to feel good in the car and with the team since I hadn’t been in a car since October of last year, but I think we did everything we needed to do and can start really working on making the car faster tomorrow.”

Today’s 100th anniversary Indy 500 fun fact

In 1928, rookie driver Jimmy Gleason led 43 laps and was then relieved by fellow rookie Russ Snowberger, who led 13 laps. This is the  only time that two rookies ever led the Indianapolis 500 in the same car.