CHAMPCAR/CART: Mid-Ohio: American Spirit Team Saturday report

First Champ Car front row start for Hunter-Reay, first for Reynard in 2003. Lexington, Ohio - Ryan Hunter-Reay earned his first-ever Champ Car front row starting position today in final qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio. The...

First Champ Car front row start for Hunter-Reay, first for Reynard in 2003.

Lexington, Ohio - Ryan Hunter-Reay earned his first-ever Champ Car front row starting position today in final qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio. The rookie from Boca Raton, Florida is a product of CART's ladder system. He last competed at Mid-Ohio in 2001 while driving in the CART Barber Dodge Pro Series. Hunter-Reay participated in the CART Toyota Atlantic series last year, but the schedule did not include a stop at Mid-Ohio. Hunter-Reay's previous best Champ Car start was at Portland International Raceway when he took the green flag from seventh position. He has finished in the points in the last four consecutive races and earned his best result, a sixth place finish three weeks ago at Vancouver. Today's result is also the best this year for the Reynard; Hunter-Reay out-paced the rest of the field of Reynard's yesterday in provisional qualifying when he took the checkered flag in the ninth position.

Jimmy Vasser held the fastest time in this morning's practice session for more than 20 minutes; he finished the session in fifth position, optimistic for this afternoon's final qualifying session. In the warm-up to qualifying Vasser was on the pace, but toward the end of the session, the #12 car suffered a transmission failure, damaging the gearbox beyond repair. Vasser did not take the green flag in final qualifying and will start based on his time from provisional qualifying yesterday, which was impaired due to a late session spin.

JIMMY VASSER, #12 American Spirit/Ford-Reynard/Cosworth

Vasser on Qualifying: "First of all, great job to Ryan and the team today. We went out for the qualifying warm-up and I could feel something go terribly wrong, the transmission failed and that was it. We know we have good cars, it's a long race, I can make a good run at it from the back, I am just going to have to work a bit harder, but we can do it."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY, #31 American Spirit/Ford-Reynard/Cosworth

Hunter-Reay on Qualifying: "This feels fantastic. It's great for American Spirit to be starting on the front row and I am real proud to be the first Reynard to earn a front row start this year. It was fun out there. The difference between the Barber Dodge car and the Champ Car is unbelievable, it is like a roller coaster and when the car is working well it is just awesome. I was the only car that didn't test here last month, but we came with the right approach, we have taken our time and built into it, we haven't rushed into anything. The team has done a great job and Graham (Taylor, team manager) and Paul (Burgess, engineer) gave me a great strategy. I am really disappointed for Jimmy, he definitely would have been up there today, he is the backbone of this team, and I can't say enough about what he has taught me this year."

Stefan Johansson, Team Owner: "This is just fantastic, I am absolutely elated and so proud of Ryan, he drove a perfect qualifying session and the engineers gave him a great strategy. He told me yesterday he had more in the car, but I think he might even have surprised himself with what he pulled out of it. It is a shame for Jimmy and the #12 crew because I have no doubt that we could have had two cars in the top three today."

-astj-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Jimmy Vasser , Ryan Hunter-Reay