Hunter-Reay wins Chicago

Ryan Hunter-Reay dominated the Toyota Atlantic Championship series' 70-lap race at the Chicago Motor Speedway today. His teammate at Hylton Motorsports, Roger Yasukawa, finished second, over nine seconds behind. Hunter-Reay, showing new...

Ryan Hunter-Reay dominated the Toyota Atlantic Championship series' 70-lap race at the Chicago Motor Speedway today. His teammate at Hylton Motorsports, Roger Yasukawa, finished second, over nine seconds behind. Hunter-Reay, showing new sponsorship from internet car dealer autobytel.com, was similarly dominating at Milwaukee's one-mile oval last month, but suffered an engine failure that gave that win over to Yasukawa .

The Atlantic race had a difficult time getting underway, as Carl Russo and Alex Garcia collided in turn 1 at the start of the second lap and collected Nicolas Rondet. After five laps behind the pace car, the field was released and Russo spun again to bring the yellow right back out. When the field got the green for the third time to start lap 10, some actual racing broke out. Third-qualified Michael Valiante got a great restart and passed pole-sitter Jon Fogarty for the race lead. Fogarty was struggling with a less than ideal car, so he lost second place to Hunter-Reay later the same lap and third place to Yasukawa one lap later.

Before things proceeded much further, second-place starter Alex Figge spun into the wall to trigger the third yellow flag period. Just before the flag waved, however, Hunter-Reay slipped past Valiante for the lead. When that incident was finally cleaned up, the green waved for another 1-lap sprint before David Cutler slid his car tail-first into Chicago's turn 4 wall. The race finally settled into a good rhythm after the (now fifth) restart at the start of lap 27. The true nature of the tight 1-mile Chicago oval began to show, with drivers having a difficult time making passes for position on the narrow, one-groove course.

On lap 34, Yusakawa passed Valiante for second, and on lap 42, Rodolfo Lavin, Luis Diaz, Jonathan Macri and Buddy Rice mixed it up while battling in close formation, Rice slipping just a little and falling from 7th to 10th, and the other three slipped by. These were the only passes for position within the top ten for the middle laps until Diaz got by Lavin for seventh place on lap 61. Diaz would move up again with three laps remaining when Rocky Moran, Jr. slipped, allowing Diaz and Macri to scoot by for sixth and seventh. Waldemar Coronas stayed ahead of this busy fight to finish fifth behind Valiante and Fogarty. Moran and Lavin were 8th and 9th, and Alex Gurney, Fogarty's teammate at Dorricott racing, was tenth.

The series points race tightened up with the race results. Fogarty, who won the season opener at Monterrey, Mexico, held onto the lead by one point over Valiante, the Long Beach winner. Yusakawa, who didn't start his season until the second stop at Long Beach, is only seven points from the lead in third. Diaz is fourth and Hunter-Reay moved up to fifth (from ninth) with his win. Only fifteen points separate the top five drivers.

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Alex Gurney , Jon Fogarty , Michael Valiante , Jonathan Macri , Luis Diaz , Ryan Hunter-Reay , David Cutler , Roger Yasukawa , Alex Garcia , Buddy Rice , Alex Figge , Waldemar Coronas , Carl Russo , Rocky Moran