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LAS VEGAS (October 13, 2011) – The Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Pippa Mann and Jay Howard got on-track preparations for Sunday’s IZOD Indy Car Series season finale underway today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, taking the opportunity to turn their first-ever full-speed laps around the trying 1.5-mile oval.
The teams were afforded an hour of practice this morning, to be followed by more practice and qualifying tomorrow, and while both RLL cars lost precious time due to a lengthy cleanup following a competitor’s oil-line problem, both drivers logged more than 40 laps in their first sessions. Mann made 47 trips around the LVMS oval, ending up 19th on the time charts with a best lap of 25.0741 seconds (221.679 mph) in her first visit to the desert loop.
"It was a good feeling getting out on track today - we were able to run some competitive laps and despite a slightly interrupted practice session, we gathered some worthwhile data,” Mann said. “I'm pretty confident we'll have a good race car on Sunday, as I was able to run inside and outside of people out there on the track and set some fairly decent times in clean air, so I'm really looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow."
Howard, who has 12 Indy Car starts on his resume but none at Las Vegas, posted 42 laps in the early afternoon session, hanging up a best time of 25.3269 seconds (219.466 mph). Howard, like his teammate, earned his fastest time late in his run and credits the value of having a second car in the RLL stable as key to improvement throughout the weekend.
“I think today was a good start and we’re just going to keep pushing and looking for more speed,” Howard reported. “Having a teammate here will allow us to try a greater number of changes as we try to find time, and allows us to gather valuable data that will help us move forward. I am really looking forward to the rest of the race weekend and representing Service Central as well as R66T and Cyrca on the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan car!”
The drivers will get a little non-track time in their cars tonight as they participate in a full-field parade that will see 34 Indy Cars running on the famed Las Vegas Strip. The team will get back to business tomorrow afternoon with another 45 minutes of practice, which leads into single-car qualifying that gets underway at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The teams will not be on track Saturday, but will have a full day of preparation for Sunday’s 200-lap battle, which can be seen live on ABC. The race will take the green flag at 3:45 Eastern on Sunday afternoon. Fans can follow all of the weekend’s action live as well on www.indycar.com.