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Rahal to run two cars in St. Pete

Rahal-Letterman Racing will run as a two-car team in this weekend's St. Petersburg race, according to IRL IndyCar Series president and chief operating officer Brian Barnhart

The team withdrew Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice from the Homestead season opener after their teammate Paul Dana was killed in an accident during the Sunday morning warm-up.

Barnhart was responding to questions regarding the likely size of the St. Petersburg starting field.

"Rahal Letterman Racing has already withdrawn the #17 car, but I know we'll be as full as we can be based on the availability of equipment," he said. "But I don't know what everyone's plans are.

"If Danica and Buddy run, which Bobby Rahal told me they would, then we'll have 18, and I consider that a full field."

Much of the mainstream media coverage of the Dana tragedy has focused on Patrick's reaction.

Barnhart found it necessary to defend Bobby Rahal's decision to withdraw Rice and Patrick from Sunday's race.

"I understand that Buddy and Danica are two of our most popular drivers," he said.

"I'm sure people want to see them, but they need to have respect for the race team due to the circumstances that happened Sunday morning."

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