NEWTON, Iowa - Yesterday's rains were the last thing that people in Iowa needed. Today's rains were the last things that Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...
NEWTON, Iowa - Yesterday's rains were the last thing that people in Iowa needed. Today's rains were the last things that Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) needed.
After rolling off the truck and turning fast laps in yesterday's test session at the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway, Hunter-Reay's Ethanol-sponsored machine was seventh-fastest again today after three full hours of practice, building optimism that the RLR machine would easily be able to score a top-10 starting spot once the IndyCar Series' four-lap qualifying procedure got underway at 5:30 local time.
But the winds blew up and the sky grew dark just at the end of the Firestone Indy Lights race, and although much of the 24-car field trundled out on Pit Lane for the start of qualifying, it was a foregone conclusion that the rains were, at the very least, going to hold up progress.
Dan Wheldon and Ryan Briscoe actually completed qualifying runs, albeit in the teeth of a fairly strong wind, before rain started to fall to bring out the yellow flag. Fifty-five minutes later, IndyCar officials cancelled the session for the day.
Unfortunately, the IndyCar Series rules sets the field by points despite the fact that the teams had three hours of practice, meaning that instead of contending for a starting spot in the first few rows, Hunter-Reay will start 14th in tomorrow's Indy Corn Iowa 250.
"It's really a shame for us, but it just appears to continue the streak of bad luck that seems to follow us this season," Hunter-Reay lamented. "We have a good car, I feel pretty good about our chances, but now that we start in the seventh row, things are going to be more difficult. Hopefully the track open up for passing unlike last year and we can make our way to the front because we need to have a good outing here."
"It's a shame because I'm pretty sure we would have qualified where we practiced," said RLR Chief Operating Officer Scott Roembke. "Looking toward the race, this is a tough place to pass but there are opportunities to use some strategies and our pit crew has been on fire lately, so I think we'll have the chance to make up some spots. We just have to stay out of trouble and see how it goes."
The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will take place tomorrow afternoon, beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, and can be seen live on ABC. Fans can also follow all of the action via the timing and scoring feature on the official website of the IndyCar Series, www.indycar.com.
Rahal Letterman Racing would also like to extend their condolences to the family of Scott Kalitta, the former NHRA Top Fuel Champion and current NHRA Funny Car driver who was killed today in an event at Englishtown, N.J.