IRL: Sears Point: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING LOOKING TO TURN SONOMA INTO 'WIN' COUNTRY HILLIARD, Ohio - Boxing aficionados refer to rounds 11 and 12 as the 'championship rounds', in part, because the last rounds are the ones where the keeper of the title is often ...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING LOOKING TO TURN SONOMA INTO 'WIN' COUNTRY

HILLIARD, Ohio - Boxing aficionados refer to rounds 11 and 12 as the 'championship rounds', in part, because the last rounds are the ones where the keeper of the title is often determined.

Riding a wave of strong finishes that have him within reach of a top-five berth in the title chase, Rahal Letterman Racing's Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) has momentum on his side as the 2007 IndyCar Series season enters the championship rounds with this weekend's Motorola Indy 300 at Infineon Raceway. Sunday's 80-lap event kicks off a season-ending stretch of three races in three weeks, a streak that wraps with the Sept. 9 finale in Chicago.

Coming off a Michigan race where he started third and finished sixth, Sharp stands seventh in the series standings. His nine top-10 runs this year has him just 11 points out of sixth and 32 points behind fifth-placed Sam Hornish Jr. The series leader in laps completed, and riding a series-high streak of 10 consecutive race finishes, Sharp hopes to draw on his past Sonoma experience to keep the team rolling .

"Infineon Raceway has always been a very special track to me. I've won there a few times in different types of cars, from Trans-Am to World Sports Cars," said Sharp. "I lived in the East Bay for three years and spent a lot of time at Infineon while I was out there, so it feels like home. And, of course, Infineon is one of the most picturesque, demanding tracks that we run on. I don't think there are two similar corners on the track so it's a challenge to drive as well as to achieve a consistent setup. I'm excited to bring our Patron Rahal-Letterman team there to do battle!"

Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) will be making his first start at Infineon Raceway, but carries the confidence gained from a strong IndyCar road-course debut. The Floridian made his first series appearance with RLR at Mid-Ohio and immediately set season-highs for the team with a 10th-place starting spot and a seventh-place result.

"Sonoma is a new challenge for me having not raced there in the past," said Hunter-Reay. "Last week we had a productive one-day test where we were second-quick against some very competitive cars, so I am optimistic heading into the race weekend. We have been working so hard on closing the gap to Penske, Ganassi and AGR. Our first race together at Mid-Ohio was a solid weekend all around, so there's no reason why we can't turn it up a notch this weekend. We will need to make the most of every session leading up to Sunday where we need to run a clean, mistake-free race.

Hunter-Reay moved closer to the Bombardier Learjet Rookie-of-the-Year Award in Michigan, cutting Milka Duno's lead in the rookie points to 12 with three races to go. Duno will not be competing in this weekend's event, assuring Hunter-Reay of tying Duno in Sonoma, as the 18th through 24th-place finishers each earn 12 points.

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Scott Sharp , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sam Hornish Jr.