RAHAL LETTERMAN WORKING ITS WAY TOWARD THE FRONT AT MID-OHIO LEXINGTON, Ohio - I'm one step closer/And I'm willing to try - Bon Jovi Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...
RAHAL LETTERMAN WORKING ITS WAY TOWARD THE FRONT AT MID-OHIO
LEXINGTON, Ohio - I'm one step closer/And I'm willing to try - Bon Jovi
Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) spent a blistering summer day at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today looking to find speed in every corner of the 2.258-mile road course. By the end of the day the team wasn't quite where it needed to be - but was close enough to be optimistic for a pole run on Saturday.
Hunter-Reay put in two long practice sessions on a 90-degree Central Ohio day and ended the afternoon holding down the 10th spot on the speed sheets, logging a best lap of 1:08.302 (118.099 mph). Ironically, he qualified 10th here at Mid-Ohio a year ago in what was his first start in the IndyCar Series and with Rahal Letterman Racing.
"I think we can be up front here tomorrow, and I am going to do everything I can to make sure we get there," Hunter-Reay surmised. "I think we have the foundation of a fast car, we just need to make the correct changes overnight. We started the day with some handling issues but we're making our gains in each part of the racetrack and it should pay off for us tomorrow."
Hunter-Reay turned his best lap of the day on the 21st of his 22 trips through the Ohio countryside in the afternoon session, running on worn tires as the team tried to conserve its allotment of Firestone Firehawks for Saturday's PEAK Motor Oil qualifying.
The qualifying format puts a premium on tires and a team needs to ensure that it has enough shoes to carry it all the way to the Firestone Fast Six if necessary. The field is split in half for the first session, while the top six in each session move on to a second outing. The top six out of that dozen drivers moves into the Firestone Fast Six, where times are erased and the six pilots have 10 minutes to post a polewinning time. Hunter-Reay has advanced to each of the last three Firestone Fast Six sessions - the longest streak for a Rahal Letterman Racing driver since the format was introduced in 2004.
"I think we have a little faster car than the times showed today," said Chief Operating Officer Scott Roembke. "I think if we can make the car a little more drivable for Ryan, we'll have a chance to do really well."
Hunter-Reay has yet to qualify outside of the top 10 at a road course in his short IndyCar Series career, having gridded tenth or better in each of his five previous road- or street-course outings.
"I love this track and the fans are coming back, which makes this place even more special for me," Hunter-Reay said. "This track suits me and this team well and we need to take advantage of that."
Mid-Ohio: Series qualifying report
Mid-Ohio: Panther Racing Friday report