INDIANAPOLIS (May 19, 2011) – After two days of rain and cold at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan squad was finally able to get back to the business of finding speed as preparations continue for this weekend’s qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.
Both Bertrand Baguette (#30 RACB/Aspria Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Jay Howard (#88 Service Central Dallara/Honda/Firestone) made strong progress today during a six-hour practice session. Each car set monthly highs for laps turned around the 2.5-mile IMS oval, with both Baguette and Howard turning their fastest laps of May as well.
Howard, who is looking to earn a berth in his first Indy 500, carded a best lap of 225.594 mph (40.39.8946 seconds). He turned 49laps throughout the day, even going out again with less than 15 minutes to run in the session to try a new configuration that the day’s data had suggested.
“What we were able to do in our last outing (when Howard posted his best laps of the month) shows just how hard this team works, and how good their development process is.” Howard said. “The Service Central crew has worked very hard to find some more speed in the car and the engineers keep coming up with more options for us. So we just take the car out with those changes they suggest and keep going faster. I am very encouraged by what we did today.”
Baguette snapped off a best lap of 224.617 mph (40.0682 seconds) for his best May clocking, turning his top trip on the 77th of his 82 laps. His session today saw him log 205 miles and yielded a lot of good information that the Ohio-based team will use this weekend when the 33-car field will be set for the May 29 500-mile event.
“Finally we got to do some laps and again I think we had a good day,” Baguette said. “We had a full day of running and that allowed us to try a number of different things. Most of them were good, but there were some that didn’t work. It’s all part of the process that you have to go through here and I have been really impressed with the way this team goes through their processes. If we keep working like this, we’re going to have good speed at qualifying.”
The Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars now have just one day of practice available remaining ahead of 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 1993, three former F1 World Champions finished in the top five of the race. Emerson Fittipaldi (1972, 74) won the race, Nigel Mansell (1992) finished third and Mario Andretti (1978) finished fifth. This is the only Indy 500 where three World Champions finished in the top five