Mid-Ohio: AJ Foyt Racing race report

LEXINGTON, OH Aug. 9, 2009--Starting a season-high seventh, Ryan Hunter-Reay and the ABC Supply team set the stage to score their best finish of the season in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Sunday afternoon. Everyone ...

LEXINGTON, OH Aug. 9, 2009--Starting a season-high seventh, Ryan Hunter-Reay and the ABC Supply team set the stage to score their best finish of the season in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Sunday afternoon.

Everyone played their part well as Hunter-Reay drove the wheels off the No. 14 ABC Supply car to finish fourth in front of a sellout crowd that included over 600 ABC Supply guests! It was the team's best start and finish of the season to date.

"We just rolled off the truck with a good setup and from there we did what we thought was smart," said Hunter-Reay afterwards. "I put it together on the track and the guys put it together on pit lane and that's what it takes. We didn't make any mistakes. A lot of guys that are making a lot of money--veterans--made a lot of mistakes today so it's awesome for ABC Supply and A.J. And a big thanks to ABC Supply for their support."

On the start, Tony Kanaan squeezed by Hunter-Reay for seventh but the next lap Kanaan went off the track and Hunter-Reay was back to seventh behind Helio Castroneves. He began conserving fuel as did Castroneves. When it came time for his first pit stop on lap 30, the ABC Supply team took off the faster Firestone alternate tires (red-rimmed) and slapped on four sticker primary (black) tires. They got him out in short order and he kept his seventh place position.

Ten laps later he moved into sixth when Castroneves went off the track in turn 9, bringing out a full-course yellow for three laps. The second full-course yellow came out a couple laps later when Danica Patrick was punted off course by Mike Conway who drew a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact. Once the track went green on lap 49, there were no more full-course yellows.

The team had one more stop and had to decide between a set of slightly used 'red' tires that had six laps on them from qualifying or a new set of black primaries. Foyt decided on the blacks because he was concerned how the heat cycle (tires get hot and then sit for a period--in this case 22 hours--and cool down) may have affected them.

"He was running such a good race and he didn't seem to lose that much with the blacks speed-wise so we gambled that he could still keep up the pace and he did. He drove a helluva race!" said Foyt.

When Hunter-Reay pitted, he slipped to seventh because of the different fuel strategies in play but soon moved into sixth when Justin Wilson, who was running second after leading the early stages of the race, ran short of fuel and coasted into the pits.

In the final fuel stint, Hunter-Reay was battling hard with Hideki Mutoh who had put on a new set of the faster 'red' tires on his final stop. Maintaining his cool, Hunter-Reay capitalized when Graham Rahal went off course ahead of him allowing the No. 14 to move into fifth. He moved into fourth place when Marco Andretti had to pit for fuel with 10 laps to go. It was during those final ten circuits that Hunter-Reay drove his fastest lap of the race while holding off Mutoh to the checkered.

Visibly dehydrated after climbing out of the car, Hunter-Reay was congratulated by Foyt and the entire ABC Supply team.

Reflecting on the race afterwards, Hunter-Reay said, "That was a hard race, especially knowing Hideki Mutoh was on reds [tires] because he's been fast all weekend. Mid-Ohio has always been known to be a very physical race track. It's known to provoke a lot of mistakes and with the heat [90-plus degrees] that we had today, it definitely did that. Man I was qualifying there towards the end and there was no margin for error. I was one lock-up away from going off, that's how hard I was driving. I was just real proud for all of us, A.J. on the radio with me there counting down the laps and we brought it home fourth. It was a really good day."

Also having a good day was Scott Dixon who won his fourth race of the season, easily outdistancing Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchitti. Dixon set a new record in the Series with his 20th career IndyCar Series triumph.

Hunter-Reay and the ABC Supply team head to Sonoma, California this week to test at Infineon Raceway on Thursday along with several other teams. Following the test, teams have a weekend off before returning to Sonoma for the IndyCar race there Sunday, August 23rd. It will be televised live on VERSUS at 5pm EDT.

-credit: ajfr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Mike Conway , Hideki Mutoh , Danica Patrick