Kansas: Vision Racing preview

TAKING THE VISION TO KANSAS: Vision Racing returns to Kansas Speedway for the fifth time and is following up a strong run last season when A.J. Foyt IV qualified fifth and he and teammate Ed Carpenter finished eighth and tenth. The team's best ...

TAKING THE VISION TO KANSAS: Vision Racing returns to Kansas Speedway for the fifth time and is following up a strong run last season when A.J. Foyt IV qualified fifth and he and teammate Ed Carpenter finished eighth and tenth. The team's best finish came by Tomas Scheckter in 2008 when the South African finished fifth.

SETTING PRECEDECE: In the opening weekend of the 2009 IndyCar Series season, Vision Racing completed the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with two team bests thanks to debuting driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay. Driving the team's new No. 21 machine, Hunter-Reay drove from 14th to finish second in the race which is a new team high. That podium finish also put Hunter-Reay second in the championship point standings which is also the highest-ever ranking for a Vision Racing driver.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: After forming and joining the Indy Racing League in 2005, Vision Racing will celebrate its fifth season of competition in 2009. Since the team embarked upon IndyCar Series competition, eight drivers have piloted five (Nos. 2, 20, 21, 22, 90) different team entries. Those drivers have combined for an additional 41 top-10 finishes, plus 10 top-five finishes, three more podium finishes and 41 laps led. Over the previous four years the quest for the team's first victory has been top priority and Vision Racing is confident that year five will be the season where that it happens. The Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 will be the team's 69th IndyCar Series event since their first season in 2005.

ON OVALS AND SUPERSPEEDWAYS: The team's best finish on an oval is third scored by Tomas Scheckter at The Milwaukee Mile in 2006 and again in 2007 by A.J. Foyt IV at Kentucky Speedway. However, the team's overall best finish came on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. in the 2009 season-opener when Ryan Hunter-Reay finished in the second position. In the team's most recent oval affair, the 2008 season-finale at Chicagoland Speedway, Carpenter was running in the fourth spot on lap 36, when he suffered a right front suspension failure and made heavy contact with the wall which ended his race early. Teammate A.J. Foyt IV was in the sixth spot, challenging for fifth on the last lap before spinning and finishing 13th.

NEW AND OLD FOR 2009: Vision Racing is fielding two cars, full-time for the second straight season. Ed Carpenter pilots the No. 20 car for the fifth straight year, while Ryan Hunter-Reay recently joined the team and drives the No. 21 machine. Team sponsors Menards, Johns Manville, and Lilly return while SONAX, IZOD and William Rast come aboard. Personnel-wise, Keven Kukulewicz returns as team manager while the engineering staff is again headed by Jeff Britton. Joining the team this year along with Hunter-Reay is engineer Neil Fife, while engineers Nathan O'Rourke and Robert Gue return to the team as well. IndyCar Series veteran and winner Bryan Herta is again serving as a road-course consultant for the team this season. Herta and his new Firestone Indy Lights (FIL) team, Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) and driver Daniel Herrington has formed a technical partnership with Vision Racing and their new FIL team with driver James Davison. It marks Vision Racing's first FIL effort since 2005.

2009 TEAM HIGHLIGHTS: This season's highlight came in the season-opener in St. Petersburg, Fla. when Hunter-Reay started 14th and drove all the way to finish in second place.

Ed Carpenter - No. 20 Menards/Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

AT LONG KANSAS: Carpenter scored his best finish at Kansas last year when he finished 10th in his fifth attempt at the track. Carpenter started last year's race from sixth and drove as high as third in the race. He was running in fourth when he went to pit on lap 152. At that time, competitor E.J. Viso mistakenly pitted in Carpenter's pit box while Carpenter was approaching. Subsequently, Carpenter overshot his pits and had to be pushed back for fuel only. At the same time, the caution flag came out for a crash on track. Carpenter first raced the 1.5-mile oval at Kansas in 2004 where he started in the 16th spot and finished in 14th with Cheever Racing; in 2005 with Vision Racing he started from the 18th position and finished 17th, while in 2006 he started and finished from the 16th spot. Last year was the first time Carpenter did not finish the race at Kansas. After starting 13th, he was running in fifth and attempting to pass lapped traffic when he got high on the race track and spun into a crash. He finished 17th.

MOST RECENTLY: Carpenter drove his No. 20 Menards Special as high as third place in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach last weekend, but an incident on lap 39 saw Carpenter into the tire barrier. He managed to get restarted and rejoined the field, albeit three laps down. After a quick pit stop that included a front wing change, Carpenter was back on track and running at speed. Unfortunately Carpenter had a few more brushes with trouble, including getting a little off course after an encounter with a competitor on lap 60, resulting in slight contact with his own teammate Hunter-Reay. Carpenter finished under power and in the 18th spot after starting in the 23rd position.

Ryan Hunter-Reay - No. 21 William Rast/Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

AT KANSAS: Hunter-Reay will be making just his second start at Kansas Speedway. His first came last season with Rahal Letterman Racing when he started 12th and finished 18th.

STONG DEBUT: After searching for a ride for nearly all but the final few days of the IndyCar Series off-season, Hunter-Reay found himself as the driver of the No. 21 machine just days prior to the season-opener at St. Pete. Qualifying 14th, Hunter-Reay went into the race looking for a safe and solid start and came away with a second place finish in his first drive with the team.

TOP-FIVE IN POINTS: Hunter-Reay is currently fifth in the IndyCar Series championship point standings. Unfortunately an 11th place finish at Long Beach caused him to slip from second to fifth.

MOST RECENTLY: From a 12th place starting position on the grid, Hunter-Reay battled a strong push and wild rear-end of the car for the majority of Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Thanks to solid pit strategy, he ran as high as third and remained in the top-ten for a great deal of the race. While running in ninth with just three laps to go, the ill-handling car became too much for Hunter-Reay as he fought to keep it pointed forward and at full speed. He slipped to 10th and was passed on the last lap by Alex Tagliani to finish in the 11th spot.

-credit: vr

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