HUNTER-REAY PACES ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT QUALIFYING SATURDAY IN RETURN TO NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
RHR Starts 5th with Conway 12th, Patrick 15th and Andretti 22nd for Sunday's 225-Mile Oval Race
LOUDON, N.H. (Aug. 13, 2011) - Ryan Hunter-Reay, coming off an impressive third-place finish last week at Mid-Ohio, continues his strong performance Saturday by taking the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda machine to a top-five in qualifications for Sunday's MoveThatBlock.com 225 at the fast New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Hunter-Reay posted an average speed of 169.570 mph in his two-lap qualifying run to lead the Andretti Autosport team and will start on the inside of the third row when the green flag drops Sunday at 4 p.m. EDT. This weekend marks the return of the IZOD IndyCar Series to the Northeast one-mile oval track after a 13-year absence. Sunday's race will be televised on ABC-TV at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
Mike Conway, the Long Beach Grand Prix winner, looked good in morning practice Saturday and turned in a solid qualifying effort in the No. 27 Team @FollowAndretti Honda/Dallara/Firestone car with a speed of 167.852 mph. Conway, who came from 19th to sixth last week at Mid-Ohio before retiring from the race with a mechanical problem, will start 12th Sunday.
Danica Patrick, the only driver in this weekend's field to have previously raced at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, drove the No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry to 15th in qualifying Saturday. Danica competed in the NASCAR Nationwide race last year in New Hampshire.
Marco Andretti, fighting for the top-five position in the current IZOD IndyCar Series points, struggled with the changing track conditions in the No. 26 All Natural Snapple Honda/Dallara/Firestone car in qualifying and will start 22nd Sunday. However, Andretti is accustomed to charging to the front on the short ovals as he came from 17th to win in the last series oval track race in Iowa. Andretti believes his car will be much better for Sunday's 225-mile event.
MARCO ANDRETTI, #26 TEAM ALL NATURAL SNAPPLE CAR
Will start the race in P22 "Not happy with the qualifying results today - we're just really struggling for grip out there with the Snapple car so we didn't have the speed we needed. It'll make things tougher on Sunday but we'll do our best to make our way up through the field. We've come from the back before and we'll fight to do it again."
MIKE CONWAY, #27 TEAM @FOLLOWANDRETTI CAR
Qualified for the race in P12 "We didn't run the afternoon practice because we thought the track would be off due to the stock car rubber, and that proved to be the case. Our qualifying run wasn't bad since we went out early (second). The car didn't feel too bad. I was hoping for a little better speed. If we could be in the top 12 or so, we would be okay, and we are 12th. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) had a good run with his car (fifth). There seems to be a fine line with the groove. You have to hit your marks just right. If you don't, you can lose a lot of time. It will be interesting to pass in the race. Right now, there is one groove. You will see some people make mistakes in the race and the groove will widen. You could see side-by-side racing then."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, #28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA CAR
Starts the race in P5 "I have to thank my teammates for helping me with the track conditions today. I was later in the qualifying line and I was able to get some information from them. Man, this place is hairy to try to qualify. I was right on the edge today. But that is what I love about these short ovals. It takes some driving to get around these tracks. You have lift (off the throttle), you have to counter steer and you have to catch the car (from spinning). It's a lot of fun. The margin is so small for error. But the Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda guys did a great job getting my car ready for this place. It is tricky here. We'll be a little more conservative for the race than we were today for qualifying. It was a handful out there today. I think we can have a good day Sunday in the race."
DANICA PATRICK, #7 TEAM GoDaddy.com CAR
Will start the race from P15 "This afternoon's track conditions were so different from one session to the next, so it was difficult to know exactly how the car would respond to our setups. My second qualifying lap was the fastest lap of the weekend for the GoDaddy.com car. Unfortunately my first lap could have been fast as well, but I got a big push out of four and had to downshift on the exit, so the lap was compromised. Come race day, it will be hard to know what the track conditions will be like, so we'll make the best of it."