Mid-Ohio: Rahal Letterman Racing race report

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING BATTLES BACK FROM EARLY TROUBLE TO FINISH 10TH AT MID-OHIO LEXINGTON, Ohio - Fight the good fight every moment/Every minute, every day - Triumph Much like in yesterday's qualifying for the IndyCar Series'...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING BATTLES BACK FROM EARLY TROUBLE TO FINISH 10TH AT MID-OHIO

LEXINGTON, Ohio - Fight the good fight every moment/Every minute, every day - Triumph

Much like in yesterday's qualifying for the IndyCar Series' Honda Indy 200 Presented by Westfield Insurance at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) found themselves stopped ankle-deep in the gravel trap at the beginning of their session.

But unlike yesterday, the team and its' second-year IndyCar star salvaged a strong ending to the day, coming from nearly two laps down to finish 10th, scoring the team's sixth top-10 finish of the season.

"These guys called some great pit strategy and we caught one yellow right at a time that helped us," Hunter-Reay said. "The Firestone tires really held up when we needed them to and it's great to come away with a top-ten finish after the start we had to the day. We couldn't afford to leave many more points on the table."

The race took on a strange personality from the start as a summer downpour washed the track just before the start of the race, forcing everyone to start the event on treaded rain tires. Starting 15th, Hunter-Reay made up two spots on the first lap, but ended Lap 10 in the gravel trap as his inside move on Enrique Bernoldi sent both of them spinning off course.

The #17 car lost a lap as it was lifted out of the gravel, but Hunter-Reay was undaunted in his efforts to rejoin the fray. He climbed from 25th to 21st by Lap 29 and then got back on the lead lap by staying out during a Lap 38 caution for Milka Duno's spin, moving all the way around to the back of the pack when leaders Justin Wilson and Dan Wheldon pitted for fuel.

He and the team caught the break it needed on the subsequent restart as Hunter-Reay dove for pit lane on the restart for fuel, which would have allowed him to get fuel and tires and still stay on the lead lap, but as he did, Wilson triggered a five-car crash that essentially gave the team a free pit stop while also moving him up to 15th.

Pitting off-sequence from the rest of the leaders allowed him to climb to sixth by Lap 58 when he came in for his final fuel stop, just as Graham Rahal came to a stop after going off course. The fuel service set the #17 car up to go the remainder of the scheduled 85-lap distance without stopping and was designed to move the blue-and-green machine into the top five, but Hunter-Reay was called for a pit-lane speed violation upon leaving the pits, with the penalty calling for a low-speed drive-through trip to Pit Lane.

Mario Moraes' spin four laps later brought the field back together, allowing Hunter-Reay to close back on the rest of the field as he took the restart in 11th. He stretched the life of his Firestone tires for 42 laps and found his way to 10th when Bruno Junqueira pitted for fuel with 13 laps to go, earning his third Mid-Ohio top 10.

"We caught a break but then it got thrown in the trash by the speeding penalty," Hunter-Reay lamented. "But we stayed in the top 10 in the points and we'll go after it again next week."

-credit: rlr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Enrique Bernoldi , Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Graham Rahal , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Mario Moraes