Great Weekend For Part-Timers

Graham Rahal, Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell each will start in the top 10 in the Indianapolis 500 after turning in impressive qualifying efforts over the weekend despite not running with the IZOD IndyCar Series full time.

The trio of drivers was led by Rahal, who qualified seventh in his first IndyCar start with his father's team - Rahal Letterman Racing. His four lap average of 225.519 mph gave him his second consecutive top 10 start in the Indy 500.

"I'm really proud of my team and of all the guys," Rahal said. "It's pretty impressive to be in this position considering that we just finalized this deal two weeks ago. Really, none of us expected two weeks ago to be out here running within a half-mile-an-hour of Scott Dixon. This really shows what this team is made of."

This will be Rahal's first IndyCar start on an oval since 2009 when he raced for Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing. His three starts in 2010 all came on road/street course events with Sarah Fisher Racing. In his two previous Indy 500 starts he's posted an average finish of 32.0.

Ed Carpenter qualified a career-best eighth at Indianapolis in his first start of 2010 after his former team Vision Racing suspended operations prior to the start of the season.

"It was a little disappointing to not be running the series full time," Carpenter said. "But it would have been devastating to not be in the Indy 500. If I can only do one race, this is the one I want to do."

Carpenter posted a four lap average of 224.507 mph in the No. 20 Panther Racing machine during the nine driver shootout.

Townsend Bell backed up his career best run of fourth in last year's Indy 500 by qualifying a career 10th on Saturday. After his first attempt, Bell went out with a different setup in the Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing No. 99 and posted a four-lap average of 225.097 mph.

"I hate to drive like that here -- drive it like I stole it," Bell said. "I was dirt-tracking in (Turn) 1 pretty good. I was afraid I wasn't going to make it. These guys gave me a great car, and I have to credit the support we got from Chip Ganassi."

All three drivers are now on a whirlwind media tour with the rest of the drivers in the Indy 500 field to promote the Indy 500. The tour started with a trip to ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Conn. on May 24.

On track action for the IndyCar Series will continue on Friday with Miller Lite Carb Day and one last practice session prior to Sunday's running of the Indianapolis 500.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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