RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING HEADS TO DETROIT IN SEARCH OF INDYCAR SUCCESS HILLIARD, Ohio - Opportunities for IndyCar Series success are dwindling as this weekend's Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix marks the penultimate race on the 2007 calendar. But ...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING HEADS TO DETROIT IN SEARCH OF INDYCAR SUCCESS
HILLIARD, Ohio - Opportunities for IndyCar Series success are dwindling as this weekend's Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix marks the penultimate race on the 2007 calendar. But despite the fact that there are just 10 days and two races left on the series schedule, the Rahal Letterman Racing team is doing far more than simply playing out the string.
Both Scott Sharp (#8 Patron Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) have goals to accomplish in the last two races, and this weekend's event at the Detroit island course could go a long way toward helping both drivers reach those milestones.
Hunter-Reay can all but seal the Bombardier Learjet Rookie-of-the-Year title this weekend, and could set an IndyCar Series record for fewest starts in a season by a rookie-of-the-year winner. Hunter-Reay will be making just his fifth series start this weekend and comes into the event tied for the rookie points lead. He is knotted atop the points with Milka Duno, who has six starts to Hunter-Reay's four this year. Meanwhile, Sharp is looking to solidify a top-10 finish in the season points, which would be the eighth in his last 10 IndyCar seasons.
The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will be the inaugural IndyCar race on the 2.125-mile Belle Isle circuit, but the RLR drivers can tap on experiences earned far earlier in their careers to help them this weekend.
"Heading back to Belle Isle is something I have been looking forward to since the day I signed with Rahal Letterman Racing," Hunter-Reay said. "I had the chance to compete there in 2000 in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and really enjoyed the track, it was one of my favorite street circuits. We are hoping to continue where we left off last weekend in Sonoma where the Ethanol team showed impressive pace all weekend. Last week we barely missed the fast six qualifying session, this weekend we need to be in that group. So long as we develop the setup as we have been there's no reason we shouldn't start in the top five. One thing for sure, I'll be pushing hard all weekend."
Sharp will have to go a bit deeper in his memory banks for Belle Isle knowledge, as he last competed on the circuit as a rookie in 1994, where he made up 13 spots from his grid position and finished 13th. This weekend's race holds added importance as he sits just two points behind Danica Patrick for seventh in the series point standings. The series leader in laps completed, and riding a series-high streak of 11 consecutive race finishes, Sharp knows that the time is now if he and the Patron squad are to continue their climb up the championship ladder.
""It's exciting to bring the Indy cars back to downtown Detroit! I can't wait to see the improvements that Roger Penske and his staff have made to the circuit," Sharp enthused. "In the past, Belle Isle was always a very challenging track where track position was everything. We keep learning about our Patron Dallara on road courses and look forward to the battle on the streets!"