HUNTER-REAY, VISION RACING MAKE 2009 INDY 500 FIELD IN DRAMATIC FASHION INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Courage and a gust of wind propelled Vision Racing driver Ryan Hunter-Reay into the famed field of 33 for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the 2009 ...
HUNTER-REAY, VISION RACING MAKE 2009 INDY 500 FIELD IN DRAMATIC FASHION
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Courage and a gust of wind propelled Vision Racing driver Ryan Hunter-Reay into the famed field of 33 for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the 2009 Indianapolis 500.
After being bumped out just moments earlier by competitor John Andretti, Hunter-Reay pulled on track at 5:57 p.m. (ET) in the No. 21 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone and bumped his way back into the field; qualifying the car as the final gun sounded representing the end of qualifications.
Even more, his four lap average of 220.597 mph was literally just enough to get back in as it bumped out driver Alex Tagliani by only 0.085 seconds. It's also the closest field in the history of four-lap qualifying for the 500-Mile Race -- 3.0967 seconds separate pole winner Helio Castroneves and Hunter-Reay.
It was Hunter-Reay's second qualifying attempt of the day and fourth of the month overall. He will start in the 33rd and final position for his second Indianapolis 500. His status as a last row starter actually puts him in good company along the likes of Indy 500 and open-wheel greats Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Johnny Rutherford.
Hunter-Reay will be looking to earn a spot in history with those gentlemen by vying for the race win from the farthest starting position. The farthest back anyone has started the Indianapolis 500 and won is the 28th spot, which has been done twice by Ray Haroun (1911) and Louis Meyer (1936).
Just last season Hunter-Reay started 20th at Indy and ran an impressive race, finishing behind current teammate, Ed Carpenter, in the sixth spot and earning Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors.
Hunter-Reay also drove 25 laps of practice today with a best lap of 220.948 mph.
Teammate Ed Carpenter and his No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone machine turned 82 laps in practice today with a top speed of 220.065 mph.
Carpenter qualified the No. 20 Menards special last Sunday, May 10th in the 17th position, middle of row six, with a four-lap qualifying average of 222.780 mph.
Just last season Carpenter started a career-best 10th at Indy, drove his first career IndyCar Series leader laps (3) and finished a team and career-best fifth place at the Brickyard.
IndyCar Series final practice for the 2009 Indianapolis 500 will take place this Friday, May 22nd from 11:00 am ET on Carb Day.
Ryan Hunter-Reay - No. 21T Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone
On qualifying: ""These guys worked so hard and it's great to get them in the show. I can't believe we found ourselves in this position to have to qualify in the last 3 minutes. I wouldn't have put money on that. It worked in our favor but it was just a question on minutes because Tagliani was pretty fast. Luckily we went out last. We ran downforce levels you wouldn't believe. We were as trimmed out as anybody has been this month and we still could make it into the 221 mph for some reason but we made it in the show and that is what counted today. We've had an inherent handling issue with the car since the beginning of the month. There was just too much push. The exit of Turn 1, as the tires wore off; new tires will mask that push. But then once you get to the third and fourth lap, it was like a controlled slide at the front of the car up to the wall to see if I could keep it off the wall. If you watched with a somewhat educated eye on the run, you could tell that we were definitely light, and we were really, really struggling with the front of the car. We're really lucky right now. I'm just worried about the front of the car in traffic. We went and ran in traffic a little bit the other day, and I could only get so close up to cars and the front would wash out. We need to make it better for the race."
"These Vision guys worked really hard. I'm really happy for them. Now, hopefully we can go make up all those spots in the race. I mean, it was just all day long it was like this. Since we woke up, it was: 'What are we going to do? What are we going to do? Let's pull the car out. Let's put it in. The whole day it was qualifying simulations. That was the hairiest day I've ever had, I think. I've never been so happy to be last place. It's been such a tough month but I keep telling myself that I am living what everyone tells you about this place. This is what makes Indianapolis so special; Days like these. As difficult as this month has been I can't thank Tony and Laura (George) and the Vision team for giving me this opportunity and we'll make it through the month together."