RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING STRUGGLES TO 15TH-PLACE FINISH AT MILWAUKEE WEST ALLIS, Wis. - After one lap of today's ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at the Milwaukee Mile, things were looking as sunny as the skies for Rahal Letterman Racing and driver Ryan...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING STRUGGLES TO 15TH-PLACE FINISH AT MILWAUKEE
WEST ALLIS, Wis. - After one lap of today's ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 at the Milwaukee Mile, things were looking as sunny as the skies for Rahal Letterman Racing and driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone).
Starting in the 12th spot in today's IndyCar Series event on the 100-year-old mile oval, Hunter-Reay stormed around the outside of the first turn and picked off four cars as deftly as could be, slotting into the eighth spot.
Unfortunately, the fun didn't last long for the newly-crowned Indy 500 Rookie of the Year as car problems attacked soon after sending him on a downward spiral through the field that ultimately left him 15th on the final results sheet.
"That is the hardest day I have ever had in a race car, by far. The car never got to where we needed it to be and at the end it fell off after just a few laps on new tires," Hunter-Reay said. "I had a good start and the tires were under me and we made up a good bit of ground. Unfortunately, it didn't last long and what is worse is that we don't know why the car was so bad today."
Hunter-Reay started reporting a problem getting his Honda-powered machine into fifth gear about 20 trips into the 225-lap affair, as he lost four spots before gaining one back with a Lap 45 pass on Townsend Bell that moved him into 11th. He maintained his post there until a caution period for debris brought everyone down Pit Lane, where the Rahal Letterman Racing pit crew that performed so brilliantly in Indianapolis took over.
The team swapped four Firestone Firehawks and fed the #17 machine 22 gallons of Ethanol so quickly that Hunter-Reay emerged three spots ahead of where he came in, taking the restart in the eighth spot. He vaulted to seventh on the restart lap with a pass of Will Power, but would make only one more pass the rest of the day.
A loose race car on a one-mile oval populated with 26 cars is a challenge that few drivers relish, but Hunter-Reay was able to stay on the lead lap for most of the day and more importantly - he brought the car back in one piece as the series heads to Texas next week.
"We did not do a good job giving Ryan what he needed today," said RLR Chief Operating Officer Scott Roembke. "He did a great job for us in keeping it out of the fence, which would have set us back a good bit heading into next weekend."
Hunter-Reay fell back to 21st after his final green flag pit stop with 44 laps to run, but he moved up to 18th as some of those in front made their final stops. He then gained three positions in the waning laps as Marco Andretti and Ed Carpenter got together, collecting Indy 500 runner-up Vitor Meira in the process. The wreck forced the race to end under caution, where Ryan Briscoe was the first to cross the finish line.
The series will head south this week, traveling to the high-banked Texas Motor Speedway oval for Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550K. The 228-lap battle around the 1.5-mile oval will mark the first time that Hunter-Reay has competed in the town of his birth. The race can be seen Saturday night at 10 p.m. Eastern on ESPN 2.