RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING SET FOR INDYCAR SEASON OPENER AT HOMESTEAD HILLIARD, Ohio - This weekend has been circled in Day-Glo orange on the Rahal Letterman Racing calendar ever since the last engine shut down at Chicago in October, as this...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING SET FOR INDYCAR SEASON OPENER AT HOMESTEAD
HILLIARD, Ohio - This weekend has been circled in Day-Glo orange on the Rahal Letterman Racing calendar ever since the last engine shut down at Chicago in October, as this weekend's Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300 signals the start of a promising 2008 IndyCar Series season for the Ohio-based team.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) will lead the team into the season opener, and the young American carries a special excitement into Saturday night's 200-lap lidlifter as the reigning Bombardier Rookie of the Year gets to open the 2008 campaign in his own backyard.
"This is a very special season opener for me. Homestead is actually my home track, however I have never raced on the oval. Racing in front of the hometown fans under the lights in the Ethanol IndyCar will be surreal to say the least," Hunter-Reay enthused. "I am ready to get this 2008 race season underway, we have been preparing and planning for months now and it's time to go racing. We're all ready to get to work."
The blue-and-green Ethanol machine will be part of a new era in IndyCar Series competition as this weekend signals the long-awaited unification of American open-wheel racing. For the first time since 1995, the top teams and drivers in the sport are now fully engaged in one series, flying under the IndyCar flag. The largest non-Indianapolis 500 field in four years is expected to greet fans at Homestead as 26 cars are entered for the first race of the season.
For Hunter-Reay, the year provides even more change - by not providing change. For the first time in his career the 27-year-old Floridian will start the year with the same team that he ended the prior campaign with, and both he and the team are looking to build upon a strong finish to 2007.
"I really enjoy working with the guys on the team and we're all looking forward to showing what we can do over a race season's time," said Hunter-Reay. "Adding to that, to be a part of a new era in IndyCar Racing as one powerful series is fantastic. I have been waiting for this day for over 12 years."
For Bobby Rahal, this is the start of his 17th year as a team owner in open-wheel racing, and is the team's first as a single-car entry since Rahal himself carried the team's banner to four wins and a championship in 1992. But what some see as a burden, Rahal sees as a challenge to the team.
"Everyone at RLR has been giving everything they have to build on the promise that we saw at the end of last year," Rahal said. "Ryan came in and gave our team a boost in confidence last season and we will hit the track in Homestead focused on continuing our march toward the sharp end of the grid. We are looking forward to a strong field with the best teams and drivers, and expect to be running right with them throughout the entire season."