DETROIT - The isn't usually much good that be gained from being disappointed at the race track, but Rahal Letterman Racing's downcast mood after Saturday's IndyCar qualifying can only be seen as a positive as the team continues its march to the...
DETROIT - The isn't usually much good that be gained from being disappointed at the race track, but Rahal Letterman Racing's downcast mood after Saturday's IndyCar qualifying can only be seen as a positive as the team continues its march to the front of the grid.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and his Rahal Letterman Racing teammates were tremendously disappointed after Belle Isle qualifying- despite the fact that the team had just qualified in the top 10 for the eighth time this season. Hunter-Reay snared the seventh spot for Sunday's Detroit IndyCar GP Presented by Firestone with a best lap of 1:12.9511, but was less than pleased after circumstances kept the #17 car from duplicating its top-three performance from the morning's practice session.
"Our goal coming into every road course is to qualifying for the Firestone Fast Six and we came one spot short," said Chief Operating Officer Scott Roembke. "But we're in a good spot to start the race and we'll come out tomorrow in the warmup and try to make the car better."
Hunter-Reay advanced out of the first round of Firestone Fast Six qualifying for the second consecutive week, snapping off a lap of 1:13.3831 on his last pass to punch his ticket into the second round. His first session was a harbinger of things to come as a Tomas Scheckter crash ended Hunter-Reay's first stint just two laps after he left Pit Lane. He then had a 1:13.0861 timing erased when Bruno Junqueira demolished his car, bringing out the yellow just before Hunter-Reay crossed the timing line thus keeping the lap from being scored.
The second session was caution--free, but traffic problems kept the #17 cars from really stretching its legs. Hunter-Reay hung up his best time on his third lap, which at the time slotted him into the third spot on the charts. He pitted for new Firestone Firehawks in order to drop his times even lower, but he found himself having to negotiate traffic in order to find track space to post another flying lap.
Unfortunately, the tire pressures went up in the three laps that it took to find a clear spot on the track, meaning that the grip levels were not where the team needed them to be by the time that Hunter-Reay could really chase the time he needed. He had two trips around the 2.907-mile course left as Justin Wilson dropped Hunter-Reay back to seventh and out of the Fast Six, but his last lap of 1:13.0645 left him just shy of advancing. He starts seventh, which is his best since gridding fourth at Nashville.
"It's really disappointing. We timed nothing right this session," Hunter-Reay lamented. "I had to lift all the time for traffic and I never got a rhythm going in either session. Both times we had to pull out a time at the end of the run and it just didn't work out for us."