(TORONTO, Ont.) July 15, 2001 --American Ryan Hunter-Reay captured his second career victory in a dramatic seventh round of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series supporting the CART FedEx Molson Indy Toronto. Hunter-Reay in the No. 31 Barber-CART ...
(TORONTO, Ont.) July 15, 2001 --American Ryan Hunter-Reay captured his second career victory in a dramatic seventh round of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series supporting the CART FedEx Molson Indy Toronto. Hunter-Reay in the No. 31 Barber-CART Scholarship Team Dodge Reynard passed polesitter Matt Plumb inside of turn-3 on the 21st of 27 laps raced. The pair running nose to tail had spread their wings in the early going to distance them selves from the field. As Hunter-Reay executed the pass, Plumb lost the momentum on the outside line allowing a hard charging Sepp Koster to sneak passed into second place and the three would remain in that order until the finish.
The race would finish under yellow as a result of a frightening high-speed accident involving Alex Sperafico. He appeared to be launched into mid-air when touching wheels with another driver along the back straight at speeds in excess of 145 mph. A testament to the integrity of the Barber Dodge Reynard racecar, Sperafico emerged under his own power shaken, but none the worse for wear.
"Matt had me on certain parts of the track and I had him in others. Where I made the pass I had him and just waited for the opportunity," said Hunter-Reay, 20, who had stalked Plumb from less than half a second behind since the third corner of the race. "The Dodge Reynard was handling well during the race, a lot better than it had during the warm up this morning that had left me a little concerned. We made all the right adjustments."
Koster started the race on the front row, but thought discretion the better part of valor when he saw the car of Sperafico charging up the inside into turn-1. Wanting to save the fight for later, he wisely yielded the position but in the process saw himself slip from second to fifth place. And so would begin a charge through the field in the No.3 Stora-Drain Dodge Reynard that would see thrilling battles involving the likes of Nicolas Rondet, and Sperafico in addition to Plumb and Hunter-Reay. Rondet was the first of his prey. When Yasukawa got around Rondet as well the two set out after Sperafico. Koster went passed on the inside at turn-3 and Yasukawa followed suit. Then on lap-21 when Hunter-Reay made it passed Plumb, the door opened for Koster to slip by as well. Plumb recovered sufficiently to keep Yasukawa at bay.
"I knew from both qualifying and the warm-up that the car was really competitive, so I decided to play it safe at the start, but I lost three positions. From there it was a case of just cherry picking my way back to the front. I have to say the car was magic. I could follow people, catch people, out brake people. It's unfortunate the race ended early as I was beginning to see some opportunity to get passed Ryan," said Koster, 26 of the Netherlands. "I think the three of us are going to be the ones battling for the championship and we showed each other some respect as it should be."
Plumb collected 14 points for the third place finish in addition to another point for the pole position and yet another for fastest lap of the race. He remains third overall in the championship, with the battle even closer. Rondet leads on 85 points followed by Hunter-Reay with 81and Plumb 80.
"I had a little problem with my brakes though I was usually strong for three or four laps after the yellow(flag period)s. Even though I was trying to be gentle the problem seemed to reoccur. I was getting a good shot out of turns 1 and 11 and making a gap to Ryan, but coming into turn-3, I saw him on the inside. So rather than risk it, I let him through but unfortunately slowed enough for Sepp to get passed as well," recalled Plumb.
Yasukawa finished the race in fourth ahead of Rondet. Marc Breuers finished sixth with Davy Cook, Peter Boss, Rene Bauer and Tom Fogarty rounding out the Top-10. Bauer gained the most positions from his starting spot to earn him the Conseco Step Up Award worth $500.00. Fogarty drove magnificently on his return after a recovering from a broken neck sustained four months ago when he was a passenger in a road car accident. Fogarty had not been in a racecar prior to this weekend since the injury.
Now, should Hunter-Reay win the next round in two weeks time at the Chicago Motor Speedway and the final round at Laguna Seca, he will earn $20,000 for winning the Conseco Triple Crown.
Round 7 from the exhibition Place Circuit will air on ESPN 2 on August 15 at 6:30 p.m. EDT.