Motegi: Rahal Letterman Racing preview

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING LOOKING TO REBOUND IN JAPAN HILLIARD, Ohio - Rahal Letterman Racing and driver Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING LOOKING TO REBOUND IN JAPAN

HILLIARD, Ohio - Rahal Letterman Racing and driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) heads to the Land of the Rising Sun this weekend, hoping to turn the island nation temporarily into the Land of the Rising Fortunes.

The blue-and-green Ethanol machine has shown solid pace over the opening two events of the 2008 IndyCar Series campaign, but misfortunes in various forms have kept the team from getting the results that it has deserved. A controversial late-race restart in Homestead dropped the squad out of the top-five while the want of a gallon of Ethanol in St. Petersburg dropped the #17 car deep into the finishing order.

Now the team heads across the Pacific Ocean to a tricky Twin Ring Motegi oval in hopes of climbing back into the championship hunt. This weekend's Indy Japan 300 will provide the latest challenge for RLR and RHR, but the Ohio-based team has shown over the last decade that it is more than ready for anything the asymmetrical Japanese oval can throw at it.

The team is one of just two squads (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) that has competed in each of the previous 10 open-wheel races to be held at Motegi and has scored top-10 finishes in 59 percent of its starts at the track.

But while the team has plenty of experience in Japan, this will be the first outing there for Hunter-Reay, who is looking forward to going to the track that also doubles as a showcase for Honda's many motorsports accomplishments.

"I'm thrilled to finally have the opportunity to race at Twin Ring Motegi," Hunter-Reay reported. "The Indy Japan 300 is a huge event for Honda and all their employees. Honda's dedication is evident in all the IndyCar races we contest as the reliability and performance of the 3.5 Liter V8 they supply is outstanding to say the least. There is no better way to celebrate Honda's involvement and continued success than to stage a race at their home track. The Japanese fans are very passionate about motorsports so we're all looking to put on a great show. I just can't wait to visit the Honda Motorsports Museum!"

Rahal Letterman Racing has a pair of top-10 starts to its credit to start the year and has started in the top-10 in ten of its 22 previous Motegi starts including a pair of front-row spots (2000, 2005). This weekend will again feature the new four-lap IndyCar qualifying procedure and Hunter-Reay is looking forward to starting his race weekend by earning a strong starting spot.

"We had a strong showing at Homestead and we're looking to put the Ethanol car solidly in the top ten all weekend," Hunter-Reay said. "We have had good cars and I expect to be in the hunt again in Japan."

The Indy Japan 300 takes place Saturday afternoon, April 19 and can be seen live on ESPN, beginning at midnight Eastern Time on Sunday morning. Qualifying takes place Saturday morning at 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time and can be followed live on www.indycar.com

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing