Richmond: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING AND RYAN HUNTER-REAY HEAD TO RICHMOND FOR SATURDAY NIGHT SHOOTOUT HILLIARD, Ohio - Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING AND RYAN HUNTER-REAY HEAD TO RICHMOND FOR SATURDAY NIGHT SHOOTOUT

HILLIARD, Ohio - Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) have had podium finishes in their sights in each of the last two IndyCar Series events, running with the perennial powers of the series in the latter stages in Texas and last week in Iowa, before circumstances in both events dropped the team farther back in the order.

But despite the fact that the team settled for an eighth place finish in Iowa after late-race pit gambles by a quartet of cars paid off, and a 20th-place finish in Texas after getting caught in a crash, Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay have served notice to the rest of the league that they are ready to regain their status as a week-in, week-out contender.

The team will get another chance to make its point - and gain some championship points - at the shortest track on the IndyCar Series schedule as the 0.75-mile Richmond International Raceway hosts the SunTrust Indy Challenge on Saturday night.

The tight confines of the D-shaped oval and its 14-degree banking promotes speeds that were unheard of at the primarily NASCAR oval until the Indy Cars arrived in 2001. Throw in the largest field (26) that the IndyCar Series has ever taken to Richmond and Saturday night's shootout will have a whole new feel.

"I haven't been to Richmond before to see the Indy Cars and I have never been in anything this fast on a track this small," said Hunter-Reay. "When you first look at it, you think, 'how in the world are we going to race there?', but in looking at the race tapes, you can see that these cars put on a great show there."

Hunter-Reay and RLR have put on a show themselves in the last two races, with the Texas-born driver passing an astonishing seven cars after just two laps in Iowa, and running in the top three in both races. The resurgence has moved Hunter-Reay into 12th in the series' points chase and has him just 10 markers out of a berth in the top-10 as the season hits the halfway point.

"This team has really picked it up in the last couple of months, and it all started in coming back from a tough early part of the month at Indianapolis," Hunter-Reay reported. "The pit crew has been one of the best in the paddock, we are getting faster earlier in the weekend and I am learning more about the cars, the tracks and our competition every day, so I think our best days are still ahead of us."

The weekend will open on Thursday as the IndyCar Series has allowed Hunter-Reay to participate in the first half-hour of a scheduled three-hour rookie practice session. Qualifying will take place on Friday evening with each car slated for two hours and 45 minutes of practice prior to four-lap qualifying.

-credit: rlr

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay