Edmonton: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING AND RYAN HUNTER-REAY HEAD NORTH OF THE BORDER HILLIARD, Ohio - Take off/To the Great White North/Take off/It's a beauty way to go - Bob and Doug McKenzie Rahal Letterman Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...


HILLIARD, Ohio - Take off/To the Great White North/Take off/It's a beauty way to go - Bob and Doug McKenzie

Rahal Letterman Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) will get back to his roots this weekend as he returns to the Edmonton City Centre Airport layout where the Champ Car World Series made its home from 2005 to 2007. Hunter-Reay was part of the crew that christened the circuit in 2005, and will now look to rebound from a tough weekend at Mid-Ohio as the IndyCar Series makes its first-ever trip to the Canadian airport circuit.

Hunter-Reay and his RLR squad overcame a number of troubles throughout the last weekend's Mid-Ohio event to salvage a top-10 result, and will look for a stronger effort during Saturday's Rexall Edmonton Indy event.

The track is the first full airport course ever to appear on an IndyCar Series schedule, as while St. Petersburg uses part of an airport, much of its course winds through the city's streets.

The 1.973-mile Edmonton layout features a pair of high-speed sections with a wide frontstretch that includes a attention-grabbing chicane right in front of the massive expanse of grandstands, which the fastest cars will take flat-footed.

"Edmonton is a challenging track and you need to be on top of your game to get everything out of your car," Hunter-Reay said. "It is fun for us to go there because the fan support has always been so strong. The first year I went there we had 50,000 fans sitting there watching and we weren't even on track because it was raining!"

Hunter-Reay and RLR will be looking to earn back-to-back top-10 finishes for the first time this season with this weekend's trip to Edmonton. Hunter-Reay is currently ninth in the IndyCar Series point standings, but has the KV Racing duo of Oriol Servia and Will Power - both of whom also have previous Edmonton experience - nipping at his heels just two and seven points behind respectively.

"We left some points on the table last week at a track where I expected to have a better weekend," Hunter-Reay said. "The schedule is playing to our strengths right now, and maybe away from some of the other teams that we are chasing, so it is important to put last week behind us and go hard this week."

Things get underway Thursday at Edmonton with a pair of practice sessions, leading to Friday's Firestone Fast Six qualifying, which begins at 3:15 p.m. Mountain Time. The race is a rare Saturday afternoon race, scheduled as to not coincide with the NASCAR event at Indianapolis on Sunday. The Rexall Edmonton Indy takes place at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday and can be seen live on ESPN.

Rahal Letterman Racing Edmonton Notes:

The 1.973-mile airport course is the first in IndyCar Series history to be contested completely on an airport surface. The 14-turn layout features a first turn where a wide straight funnels into a 120-degree corner that channels the cars into a tight section that features more than half the circuit's turns. The back section starts at Turn Eight where drivers will be flat-out in building speed for the first of three straight sections. Turns 10-13 are reminiscent of the final section at St. Petersburg, with the exception being that Turns 13 and 14 are part of a very high-speed chicane that interrupts a long frontstretch. Will Power showed what can happen in that chicane in 2006 when he went off to his right, skipped through the grass and hit a tire barrier where a television cameraman was stationed, launching the cameraman high into the air. In its three seasons since debuting in 2005, the track set series attendance records for Canadian open-wheel races as the Edmonton fans have been following motorsports since hosting Can-Am and Formula Atlantic racing since the late 1960s. This will be the first IndyCar Series event ever to be held in Canada.

Ryan Hunter-Reay will make his 62nd open-wheel start this weekend and his first on a road course since he won at Watkins Glen two weeks ago to score his third IndyCar victory. He will make his second open-wheel start at Edmonton, having competed there in the Champ Car World Series in 2005. He started 14th and finished 16th in a Rocketsports machine.

Team Facts - Rahal Letterman Racing has never competed at Edmonton, but the team has eight podiums in Canada, six of those coming courtesy of Bobby Rahal.

Team Stats - In its 17 seasons of Indy Car racing RLR has made 572 starts, collected 78 podium results (top-three), 150 top-five finishes and 313 top-10 results while leading 3,592 laps. The team has scored victories in nine of its 17 seasons and has scored poles in 10 years. The team has never gone through a racing season without leading a lap and has scored at least one podium result in 16 of its 17 seasons. Rahal Letterman Racing has won 20 races and 29 pole positions since its inception in 1992 as Rahal Hogan Racing. Of the team's 20 wins, seven have come on road courses, the last of those being Ryan Hunter-Reay's win this year at Watkins Glen. Of Rahal Letterman Racing's 29 pole positions, 12 have come on road courses, the last being Michel Jourdain's 2003 pole at Long Beach.

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Oriol Servia , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Will Power