CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: American Spirit TJ race report

Hunter-Reay wins down under, American Spirit filled podium, Vasser third. Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American rookie to a win a Champ Car race since Danny Sullivan won in Miami in 1985, four years after Hunter-Reay was born. He started...

Hunter-Reay wins down under, American Spirit filled podium, Vasser third.

Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American rookie to a win a Champ Car race since Danny Sullivan won in Miami in 1985, four years after Hunter-Reay was born. He started the sunny then rainy then sunny event in the 12th position and broke the top six by the sixth lap of the shortened 47 lap race. Hunter-Reay drove like a veteran as he avoided nine on-track incidents and brought his Reynard home in first position. It was a day for history as Hunter-Reay went from the fastest Reynard in qualifying to the fastest of the race, in fact for the first time all year, the Reynard's finished 1-2-3 and for the first time since 1983, Rookies finished first and second. It looked as though it would be an American Spirit 1-2 finish when the American duo took the lead on lap 34, due to brilliant strategy by American Spirit engineers David Brown, Chris Leiphart, Ed Nathman, Garrett Mothersead and team manager Graham Taylor. Vasser lost his second place position when he brushed the wall and England's Darren Manning took over. It was still a fantastic drive for Vasser; he earned his first podium finish of the season after another strong Australian performance.

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

Jimmy Vasser on the race: "It was a great day out there for us today. All credit due to my teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, he drove a great race, it is his first win and a very special day in his career. I had a good battle out there with Ryan today. I had second just about sewn up and I made a mistake on the back straight and I brushed the wall and lost second. I told Darren that mistake made me go so slow that even my grandma could have passed me! Just kidding he did a great job as well. It is a fantastic day for American Spirit Team Johansson, it is a great event, and it should be a benchmark really for the future of our series. The Indy carnival is and incredible atmosphere. I hope this result today rains sponsors on our team. I think we have a great theme in American Spirit and we deserve a great American company as a sponsor."

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

Hunter-Reay on the race: "I feel like I am in a dream, this is just unbelievable. The last seven laps were tough; all of those re-starts under tough conditions. When it started raining I turned my brake bias to the rear and then when it cleared up I forgot to change it back, so the rear kept stepping out on me, it was tough. This is great for my team, for all of American Spirit Team Johansson. Dan Benton and Chris James believed in me and I am so happy to have given them a victory. It wasn't easy out there today, but we did it, it was team effort and everyone was at the top of their game. My crew made some really good calls and I drove well, our package was complete today. It is special to me to know that I won the last road course race of the season, which is important to me."

Graham Taylor, Team Manager: "An incredible race. The beauty of a CART race is that anything can happen and given the opportunity anybody can be victorious. We were given that opportunity today and we grasped it with both hands. It was very emotional for all of our rookie team to see both of our American drivers finish on the top of the podium. It's been a very difficult year and today we tasted the fruits of our efforts. I would like to thank each and every member of our team for today's performance and I would like to congratulate Ryan on his first Champ Car victory. Though a rookie he didn't put a foot wrong whilst the difficult conditions tripped up a lot of the more experienced drivers; a famous victory which he will cherish for a long time."

-astj-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Jimmy Vasser , Danny Sullivan , Ryan Hunter-Reay , David Brown , Chris James