HILLIARD, Ohio - Redemption time is at hand for Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...
HILLIARD, Ohio - Redemption time is at hand for Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) as the team looks to brush aside a bitterly disappointing Sonoma weekend and finish strong with a trip to Detroit's Belle Isle circuit this weekend, followed by the season-ending jaunt to Chicagoland Speedway the next week.
A tough finish at Sonoma dropped the squad back to 10th in the IndyCar Series point standings, and left them within reach of 11th-placed Vitor Meira, who needs to make up just 10 points on RLR in the next two races to knock the team out of the top 10, which would mark the first time since the Ohio-based team joined the IRL in 2003 that it has failed to put at least one car in the top 10 of the final standings.
The Belle Isle course is a temporary street track situated in the middle of Belle Isle Park, which is on an island in the Detroit River. The tight 14-turn course was the site of Hunter-Reay's best qualifying result of the year (fifth) in 2007, and the Floridian is looking forward to getting back to a track where he has had some success after earning his first Firestone Fast Six berth there last season.
"I'm just looking forward to getting back onto a street circuit," Hunter-Reay said. "Belle Isle is where we had our best qualifying performance and we were running good until we had a mechanical issue. I am looking to make up for a disappointing weekend at Sonoma. I'm really glad that we don't have a weekend off after that, so we can get right back to work and start making up ground."
The Ethanol car was strong for the first 20 laps last year before a broken drive shaft ended Hunter-Reay's charge after just 24 trips around the 2.906-mile course.
The Rahal Letterman Racing machine had a three-race top-10 streak snapped in Sonoma, but did post its best qualifying result (seventh) since early July when Hunter-Reay gridded fourth at Nashville. Hunter-Reay has finished on the lead lap in each of the last four races and is sixth among IndyCar Series drivers in laps completed.
The weekend gets an early start for the team as Hunter-Reay will participate in a Pump Tour for the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) on Wednesday afternoon. The tour will take place at the Valero fuel station at 32900 Mound Road in Warren, Michigan. The tour will feature Ryan offering discounted E10 fuel at $2.99/gallon, and Ethanol-enriched E85 fuel for $1.85/gallon. Ryan will also be giving away tickets to the Belle Isle event. The Pump Tour begins at 11:30 a.m. and runs until 1 p.m.