SPARTA, KY Aug. 1, 2009--A pit road accident on lap 48 sealed the fate of Ryan Hunter-Reay and the ABC Supply team in the Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night. After losing Friday's practice and qualifying due to weeper...
SPARTA, KY Aug. 1, 2009--A pit road accident on lap 48 sealed the fate of Ryan Hunter-Reay and the ABC Supply team in the Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night.
After losing Friday's practice and qualifying due to weeper holes oozing ground water onto the track, the starting field was set according to entrant's points, putting the No. 14 car in the 17th position on the grid. The teams did get 75 minutes of practice Saturday afternoon. Hunter-Reay was happy with the car except for a vibration in his right rear tire. Firestone took steps to correct the problem for the race which seemed to work.
In the race, Hunter-Reay moved up three positions by lap four but by lap 15, he radioed in that he was getting an aero push in traffic. Team owner A.J. Foyt told him to hang on until they could make a wing adjustment.
Unfortunately that first pit stop turned into a near disaster. On exit, Hunter-Reay had trouble getting it into first gear which cost him a precious second or two. At the same time, rookie Mike Conway was exiting his pitbox behind Hunter-Reay. As they raced out of their pit boxes, Mario Moraes came roaring into his which was the next pitbox ahead of Hunter-Reay. Moraes and Conway crashed and came sliding into Moraes' pitbox in front of Hunter-Reay who was able to stop before hitting either of them.
His ABC Supply crew wheeled him back and he rejoined the race. Since the accident happened under green, he lost two laps and dropped to 18th. From then on, it was a matter of driving a clean race and bringing the car home to the finish which he did.
The crew continued to adjust the car with slight changes and by the final fuel stint, he was able to keep pace with the leaders. He passed the couple of cars that were on his same lap and a couple more dropped out so Hunter-Reay finished 14th.
"We got a good start but my ABC Supply car had an aero push in traffic so we did a wing change on the first stop," said Hunter-Reay. "But when I came down and put it in first [gear] and revved the motor, it wasn't in gear so I popped it into gear again. But Moraes cleaned out our pit and that did the damage to our whole race, it put us two laps down. We fought back for the positions we could gain but it's a shame we had a problem on that first stop...horrible timing but that's the kind of year we've had."
Ryan Briscoe won the hard fought race but it was Ed Carpenter who stole the show driving Tony George's Vision Racing No. 21 car. Carpenter started 14th and moved into the top five by lap 30. He never left. He led five times for a total of 34 laps and was narrowly edged out at the line by .0162 of a second! It was Carpenter's best finish and tied his team's best finish of second, which Hunter-Reay had given them in St. Petersburg earlier this year. Briscoe won that race too.
With just one caution flag, the average race speed was 200.893mph--the second fastest in history. Third through fifth were Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal.
The IndyCar Series moves to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this week.