Monterey: Hylton Motorsports race report

Hunter-Reay earns "winner" status at Laguna Seca. Irvine, California - After another dominating performance, Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the ...

Hunter-Reay earns "winner" status at Laguna Seca.

Irvine, California - After another dominating performance, Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #1 Medlock Ames Winery/u.s. print/Toyota/Swift for Hylton Motorsports earned his first CART Toyota Atlantic Victory Saturday, at the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California.

The Atlantic rookie has been knocking on victories' door and it finally opened Saturday after recording a string of track records and pole positions. Hunter-Reay scored his first provisional pole at Long Beach, it was just his second Atlantic event and first ever on the tight street circuit. He was a victim of the first lap melee and lost a lap while he sat patiently in the tires. However, he retook the green flag on a mission, by the end of the race he had made up his lap and set a new track record for the fastest race lap.

Milwaukee was all but in the bag, he dominated the weekend, topping the charts in four of the six practice sessions and won his first pole position, breaking the previous track record on his final warm-up lap in qualifying, just before taking the green flag and capturing the pole on his first green lap. Hunter-Reay controlled the race, garnering as much as an eight-second lead over his teammate. His first Atlantic victory vanished as he suffered a mechanical failure 43 laps into the 70-lap event. Yet, once again he recorded the fastest race lap and broke his own track record that he had set the day before.

The schedule for round four of the 2002 Atlantic Championship at Laguna Seca included just one 40 minute practice session before qualifying, but it was enough for the 21 year-old Florida resident, as he captured the provisional pole position on Friday with a time of 1:19.433 at 101.429 Mph. It would be his fastest lap of the weekend and it earned him an additional championship point.

Hunter-Reay gave another commanding performance in final qualifying on Saturday morning, when he set the fastest lap of the session at 1:19 845 at 100.906 mph, securing the pole position and another championship point. The Saturday morning weather granted a slower racetrack, as Hunter-Reay's time from Friday qualifying was the official pole time.

He started the race from pole for the second consecutive week and masterfully led the entire race. There was one caution for a total of two laps but Hunter-Reay made a perfect restart and extended his lead to the end. He took the checkered flag with a 8.062 second margin of victory. "It was absolutely wonderful to win the race, especially from the pole. Ever since Long Beach when we got the lap back and set the track record we have been the fastest car on the track at every event and we finally have the results to show for it. On top of that it was an honor to bring home the victory at the home race for my primary sponsors, Medlock Ames Winery & Vineyards. It was also a home race for Keith (Hylton) as u.s. print is headquartered near here. I am really looking forward to Portland, we had a good test there and we are very pleased with our pace even thought it was my first time a t the track. Most importantly my confidence is growing and I am very comfortable pushing the car to its limits. As a team we are continuing to work very well together on and off the track and I think we have a lot of momentum going into the rest of the season," said Hunter-Reay.

"Ryan drove a perfect race on Sunday. He has a natural ability that you don't see too often. The Atlantic field this year consists of a lot of drivers with quite a bit more experience than Ryan, yet he has wasted no time proving himself and his intentions of running on top every time he is on the track." Commented team owner Keith Hylton.

Hunter-Reay joined the 2001 CART Toyota Atlantic champions, Hylton Motorsports in January, from the CART Barber Dodge Pro Series, where he was the Rookie of the Year in 2000. Hunter-Reay scored two victories in his sophomore season and finished on the podium five times. 70% of completed races were podium finishes in 2001 and he was ranked fifth in the series points standings.

For the first time in Hylton Motorsports history, the team scored two podium finishes on Saturday. Hunter-Reay was joined on the podium by his teammate, Roger Yasukawa, who finished third. The victory was the second of the season for Hylton Motorsports (Yasukawa won in Milwaukee) and the teams seventh victory since their inaugural win in 2001 at The Milwaukee Mile with Hoover Orsi. Hylton Motorsports has finished on the podium in 13 of the last 17 races. Keith Hylton commented on his teams accomplishments, "It has been a goal of mine ever since I started the team to get two cars on the podium, both drivers and the team did a fantastic job. It was a great weekend for Hylton Motorsports."

Hunter-Reay was the first driver of the 2002 season to win from pole position. He scored the maximum points available (23) at Laguna Seca, one point for provisional pole and one point for pole. He also scored a point for leading the most laps (he led all 30 laps) and 20 points for the race win. Currently ranked ninth in the championship points standings, Hunter-Reay has a total of 25 points.

Round five of the 2002 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship takes place this weekend the Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. Practice and provisional qualifying are set to take place on Friday, June 14th followed by final qualifying and the race on Saturday, June 15th. Catch the race live (6:00 PM EST) on Speed.

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay , Roger Yasukawa