LEXINGTON, Ohio - Regrets/I've had a few - Frank Sinatra For exactly one year, Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...
LEXINGTON, Ohio - Regrets/I've had a few - Frank Sinatra
For exactly one year, Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) had yet to qualify outside of the top 10 on a IndyCar Series road or street course.
Today at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the team and driver set themselves up to start a new streak.
The Team Ethanol #17 car will start 15th for tomorrow's Honda Indy 200 Presented by Westfield Insurance after a spin in today's qualifying kept Hunter-Reay out of the top 10 for the first time in his year-old IndyCar Series career.
After practicing in the top 10 during Saturday's morning's session on the 2.258-mile road course that serves as Rahal Letterman Racing's home track, prospects appeared bright for a fourth consecutive trip into the Firestone Fast Six. But Hunter-Reay spun in Turn Nine on his second flying lap, bringing out the yellow as he was towed out of the gravel trap.
IndyCar Series rules state that a driver bringing out a yellow flag loses his two fastest laps of the session, meaning that Hunter-Reay would need three laps that were faster than the best lap of the sixth-placed qualifier in the session in order to move on to the second 12-car qualifying run.
He made a strong run at it after coming in for new Firestone Firehawks, running four laps under 68.5 seconds, but in the end he had to be content with an official time of 68.3444 seconds, which left him eighth in the first session. His best lap of 68.1963 seconds was just two-hundredths of a second behind sixth-placed Justin Wilson, but the penalty made advancement a moot point.
"We definitely made the front of the car better today and the rear was a little loose, but I could drive it like that," Hunter-Reay said. "But I just lost it in Turn Nine and that cost us our fastest laps. I am pretty sure we would have advanced if that hadn't happened.
"Now we have to go out and try and race hard tomorrow," he continued. "We'll use good pit strategy and I'll make all the moves I can and try and get the Ethanol car back up front."