Iowa: Rahal Letterman Racing race report

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING SCORES EIGHTH-PLACE FINISH AT IOWA NEWTON, Iowa - The top-five finishers of today's Iowa Corn Indy 250 IndyCar Series event at the Iowa Speedway all had one thing in common. They were each passed on the track by...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING SCORES EIGHTH-PLACE FINISH AT IOWA

NEWTON, Iowa - The top-five finishers of today's Iowa Corn Indy 250 IndyCar Series event at the Iowa Speedway all had one thing in common.

They were each passed on the track by eighth-place finisher Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) of Rahal Letterman Racing.

Problem is, most the passing was done for the Rahal Letterman Racing driver in the first 200 of today's 250-lap race as the team and its driver were beaten not by sheer speed, but by teams opting to gamble on fuel strategy.

Hunter-Reay followed his strong Texas race with another stellar run, using a phenomenal start and great pace throughout the event to storm from 14th on the starting grid to third place. But a spate of late-race cautions allowed a handful of cars to eschew pit stops in order to gamble on fuel strategy and when Tony Kanaan's Lap 212 crash took 15 laps to clean up, the team's fate was sealed.

"Today was pretty good for us, we had a good car and we got beat by cars playing the fuel strategy game," Hunter-Reay said. "Will Power held me up on the last restart and that was the end of it. I thought we had a podium finish here in front of the Ethanol folks but fuel mileage gambles made the difference. I'm not complaining but you hate to lose a race like that. I had fun out there today, we had a great car, we just have to get one of the breaks that some of these other guys are getting."

Hunter-Reay started 14th after yesterday's qualifying was cancelled by a 30-minute rainstorm, but he made up for that problem in just two trips around the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway oval. He passed six cars on the first lap, then passed Danica Patrick on the next lap to take seventh.

He held station for the entire first half of the race, staying in the lead draft and allowing his Ethanol pit crew to earn him some spots on Pit Lane. He moved up to sixth on a Lap 106 pit stop after Jaime Camara brought out a caution, then passed Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe 20 laps later to claim fourth. After a Lap 160 stop under caution for Mario Moraes' spin, he passed Texas nemesis Marco Andretti for third with 84 laps to go. He settled in behind the gearbox of Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves and was looking to make a move for the lead when Enrique Bernoldi spun and brought out the canary banner again on Lap 187.

It was on that stop that the eventual race winners, led by Dan Wheldon, would stay out and roll the fuel dice while the leaders stopped. Another Moraes caution led to the Kanaan crash and the lengthy cleanup, giving those that gambled the opportunity they needed to stay in front.

Hunter-Reay earned his fourth top-10 finish of the season with the result, gaining two spots in the point standings by doing so. He vaults to 12th as the IndyCar Series nears the halfway point, and is now just 10 points out of a berth in the top 10. Today's event marks the first race in a stretch of six races in six weeks as the team packs up and heads to the three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway for next Saturday night's event.

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Will Power , Danica Patrick