HUNTER-REAY RETURNS TO THE PODIUM IN THE TEAM DHL/CIRCLE K/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA CAR IN THE HONDA INDY 200 AT THE TOUGH MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE SUNDAY
RHR Scores Third Place with Andretti Seventh for Andretti Autosport in Hot, Steamy Conditions
LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 7, 2011) - Ryan Hunter-Reay drove the entire 85-lap Honda Indy 200 Sunday without his water bottle in hot and steamy weather conditions, but he was able to taste the champagne after taking the checkered flag.
The driver of the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Honda/Dallara/Firestone machine challenged Dario Franchitti for second place late in the race and settled for third place and a spot on the victory podium. The tough conditions at the physically-demanding circuit is never easy on the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, but Hunter-Reay's late race charge was more impressive doing it without the aid of some water during the event.
Starting fifth, Ryan played the waiting game by saving ethanol fuel and conserving his Firestone tires. After the last round of pit stops, Hunter-Reay stalked the current point leader Franchitti to within a few tenths of a second as the race came to a close. A couple of attempts to pass Franchitti left the Florida racer having to settle for third. The finish was the second podium finish in the last three races for Hunter-Reay.
Marco Andretti came from 19th to place seventh in a spirited drive on the rolling hills of Mid-Ohio. The No. 26 Team Venom Energy Drink Honda/Dallara/Firestone racer was impressive on his restarts Sunday and came back to score another top-ten finish. Marco continued to work on closing the gap for a top-five placing in the IndyCar Series point standings.
Danica Patrick led the Mid-Ohio for a little time Sunday as her Team GoDaddy.com crew attempted a different race strategy early in the contest. Danica didn't pit on the first round of stops and searching for a yellow flag to help her gain some additional positions. Unfortunately, the No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com driver was forced to make ground after a green flag stop and finished 21st.
Mike Conway drove a superb race Sunday but has a 26th finish to show for it. The personable British drive r possibly made the most on-track passes of the day and was challenging Tony Kanaan for fifth on lap 62 when a mechanical failure knocked out the shifting mechanism on his No. 27 Team @FollowAndretti Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry. Conway, the Long Beach Grand Prix winner, started 17th and vaulted to sixth Sunday before he was forced to retire from the event.
It is a short turnaround for the Andretti Autosport squad with the upcoming New Hampshire one-mile oval track next on the schedule Sunday, Aug. 14. The New Hampshire race will be televised live on ABC-TV beginning at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
MARCO ANDRETTI, #26 TEAM VENOM ENERGY DRINK CAR
Finished the race in 7th place; advanced 12 positions "Not a bad day overall. We're still struggling for grip with the car, but we came into today ready to fight and that's what we did. The guys did well in the pits and we gained where we could on the track. We salvaged what we could and were able to gain 12 positions for the Venom car."
MIKE CONWAY, #27 TEAM @FOLLOWANDRETTI CAR
Ended the race in 26th place on lap 63, due to a broken exhaust clamp, causing mechanical systems to malfunction "We were running OK and got up to the top six for a while. We seemed to be coming through the field quite nicely. Unfortunately the exhaust broke and then we ended up with a mechanical failure which ended our race early. It's a shame really; the guys did a good job today. It would have been nice for a better result, but we'll keep working hard."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, #28 TEAM DHL/CIRCLE K/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA CAR
Secured a third place podium finish "It was a tough race physically, but a lot of fun. When we got on the grid, the drink bottle didn't work. It's funny how much you rely on it during a race like this. We were feeling good at the end. Saving fuel is the hardest part of the game when you have guys pushing you hard the entire race. On an IndyCar start, you can't have probation on your mind. We're just too close to each other. I still raced those guys hard. The DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop guys did a great job in the pits today. We just put it all together for a nice podium. Third is good, but we're still looking for that first win this season. Good day at Mid-Ohio. Great American race and great turn-out."
DANICA PATRICK, #7 TEAM GoDaddy.com CAR
Finished the race in 21st place "It was a tough day for the GoDaddy.com car. A couple of the yellows didn't work in our favor, and we just didn't quite have the speed to make up lost opportunities. It's so difficult to pass on this track, and you need that speed from the start. The guys did a good job in the pits, so I wish we were able to pull off a stronger finish."