Sonoma: AJ Foyt Racing race report

SONOMA, Calif. August 23, 2009--It was a case of good news, bad news for Ryan Hunter-Reay and the No. 14 ABC Supply team in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway Sunday afternoon. After a disappointing 16th place qualifying run, the...

SONOMA, Calif. August 23, 2009--It was a case of good news, bad news for Ryan Hunter-Reay and the No. 14 ABC Supply team in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway Sunday afternoon.

After a disappointing 16th place qualifying run, the team changed the car for the final practice causing Hunter-Reay to remark that it was a whole new race track for him. He was running in the top-six for most of the warm-up session before quitting early because they were satisfied with the car.

On the first lap of the race, a chain reaction crash triggered by the second row caused a mass scramble of cars. Hunter-Reay did a masterful job of snaking his way through the flying debris, and although he tagged one car with his nose, he emerged in eighth position when the dust settled!

He ran there for the first fuel stint as he tried every which way to pass Robert Doornbos who was slower than him. He pitted on lap 26 and switched from the red alternate tires to the black primary tires, getting out in 7.7 seconds. The quick stop allowed him to pass Doornbos on the scoring chart. But on the next lap he had a run-in with Oriol Servia, who'd just left the pits.

Hunter-Reay explained, "He was on cold tires, I had hot tires and got a big run on him going into the hairpin so I put it inside of him and he turned in and tore off my front wing."

Hunter-Reay made it back to the pits where the team replaced the nose assembly without losing a lap, but it was a 20-plus second stop as the damaged wing was difficult to remove. He exited the pits in front of the leaders and was able to pull away from them, turning even quicker laps times on the black tires than he had when he was trying to get by Doornbos.

On his third and final stop, the ABC Supply crew put on their final set of Firestone red-rimmed tires and Hunter-Reay ran his quickest laps of the race. He opened up a 12-second gap on pole sitter and eventual winner Dario Franchitti as Hunter-Reay had one of the fastest cars on the track.

As he closed in on 16th place, Hunter-Reay had three cars ahead of him he could pass for position when the electronics on the No. 14 car failed shutting down the Honda engine and bringing his race to an end with 10 laps to go. He was credited with 19th in the final tally. A preliminary investigation pointed to a problem in the alternator and/or its wiring.

"We just tried to get back in the race," he said afterwards. "We were able to pull away from the leaders and then the car died. The ABC Supply car was fast, it's a shame we don't have the result to show it."

For the team the good news was that they gave Hunter-Reay a good race car at a track where they have struggled in the past. The bad news is that the results don't show just how good the car was.

Franchitti won the race fending off Ryan Briscoe for the entire 75-lap distance. Mike Conway finished third with Mario Moraes and Hideki Mutoh rounding out the top five.

This week the IndyCar Series heads to Chicagoland Raceway for the PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300.

-credit: ajfr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Robert Doornbos , Ryan Briscoe , Mike Conway , Mario Moraes , Hideki Mutoh