RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING REBOUNDS FROM POWER SCRAPE AS HUNTER-REAY FINISHES SIXTH IN DETROIT DETROIT - Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING REBOUNDS FROM POWER SCRAPE AS HUNTER-REAY FINISHES SIXTH IN DETROIT
DETROIT - Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Rahal Letterman Racing used a sunny Detroit Sunday to show why the Ohio-based team has yet to finish outside of the top 10 in the final IndyCar season standings since joining the series in 2003, fighting back from a flat tire and using perfect fuel strategy to finish sixth in today's Detroit IndyCar GP Presented by Firestone.
Starting seventh, it appeared that Detroit was serving up a steaming plate of dejà vu as a tight track meant that passing opportunities were as rare as Michigan football victories this weekend, mirroring last week's frustrating event in Sonoma. And like last week Hunter-Reay was the recipient of a bump from a competitor, but instead of dropping back and missing a chance to score much-needed points, Hunter-Reay and RLR fought back.
Hunter-Reay suffered a cut tire after being hit by Will Power on Lap 53, but he guided the Ethanol car back around the 2.907-mile layout and got into the pits for some new Firestone Firehawks. He only fell back to 12th in getting the new tires, and the pit stop on Lap 54 meant that Hunter-Reay was going to have to go into fuel conservation mode in order to make the full race distance. The Watkins Glen winner hit his mileage numbers, kept Power and Bruno Junqueira at bay, and moved up as others in front of him pitted for fuel, stretching his final 22-gallon load of Ethanol all the way to the end of the race - which was cut three laps short by the series' two-hour time limit.
"We needed a drama-free race day and we got punted again, but we were able to rebound and salvage something good out of it," Hunter-Reay said. "It was a good day in the points and we had to have that today. It takes discipline to be racing and saving fuel and sometimes it's not the most enjoyable way to spend a day, but we really helped ourselves in the points by doing it."
Hunter-Reay gained a position in the standings, moving up to ninth with his sixth-place run today, and is just one point behind Marco Andretti for eighth and seven points behind Oriol Servia for seventh. Sixth place is still within reach ahead of next week's finale, as Danica Patrick is just 21 markers ahead of Hunter-Reay.
"Ryan drove a hard race, but was experienced enough to be able to get good fuel mileage when we needed it, while still holding a couple of fast cars behind him," said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. "I was proud of his effort, and that of the whole team because when you come away with a good finish on a day like today, it is a total team effort that gets you there."
Hunter-Reay was fifth after a Lap 18 caution involving Dan Wheldon and Jamie Camara and ran in fifth all the way through his first pit stop. He was chasing series points leader Scott Dixon for fifth for more than a dozen laps when the incident with Power took place, dropping Hunter-Reay to 12th. By Lap 60 he was to ninth and gained spots on fuel stops by Mario Moraes (eighth), A.J. Foyt IV (seventh) and Graham Rahal (sixth) - the last of those coming when Rahal had to pit with just two laps remaining. The result was Hunter-Reay's best since his Watkins Glen win and is his ninth top-10 finish of the season.