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Servia fast out of the box
Rahal Letterman Racing made its first appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, and made a big splash right out of the gate as the #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special and driver Oriol Servia finished seventh overall after its first day of practice for the Indianapolis 500.

Despite not having turned a single lap in the RLR Indy Car, Servia’s quickest speed of 221.353 mph around the 2.5-mile oval not only put him seventh on the overall list, it was the fastest of any driver that has yet to qualify for the 500-mile event that will run on May 24.

“When you are driving for Rahal Letterman, you better step on it,” Servia grinned. “They won this race in 2004, and honestly, the car felt great the moment I stepped into it. That makes the driver’s job a lot easier. It’s only our first day. Hopefully, we have another dry day tomorrow, so we can prepare for qualifying and just keep the focus on the last lap of a 500-mile race. It’s probably the most important race of my life, so I’m very happy with the way things have started.”

The Rahal Letterman Racing squad spent much of the day concentrating on its race-day setups for the car, and were pleased right out of the gate as Servia was up to anticipated race pace after just a fistful of laps. After going through a number of changes during the day, the team trimmed the car a little bit to check the balance, and Servia and the old-school blue #17 DAFCA machine instantly vaulted into the 221-mph range.

“The day went exactly like we planned, and for the first day out I’m not sure that it could have gone much better,” said RLR VP of Operations Scott Roembke. “Oriol is a real pro, knows exactly what he wants out of the car and we were all pleased that our crew had put together such a good car. We focused on our race setup for most of the day and we feel real good about our chances going into the weekend.”

Servia and the #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special are preparing for Saturday’s final round of qualifying, where the 23rd through 33rd spots on the starting grid will be determined. The first 22 spots were set through qualifying last weekend, while Servia and his RLR teammates bided their time, waiting for the second week to show their hand.

“Everyone has been asking me today if there’s any pressure being a last-week, and reduced program,” admitted Servia. “I haven’t felt this relieved in a long time. Finally I am in a car and I know I’m going to be in the race. I’m in a great team and there are great people around me. I feel great right away from the first lap. We want to take one step at a time, but right now, I’m really excited and happy.”

The IndyCar Series will be back at work tomorrow with six hours of practice available to the teams, with the green flag opening the proceedings at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Teams will have an hour of practice from 10:15 - 11:15 a.m. Saturday morning, leading into the final round of qualifying. Each team will have as many as three chances to participate in four-lap qualifying with the fastest 11 cars locking in the final spots, heading into Sunday’s Bump Day . Qualifying gets underway at 12:00 p.m. and can be seen live on Versus.
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