Nashville: Rahal Letterman Racing qualifying report

RYAN HUNTER-REAY SETS NEW PERSONAL BEST FOR OVAL-TRACK INDYCAR QUALIFYING WITH A FOURTH-PLACE RUN AT NASHVILLE NASHVILLE - Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...

RYAN HUNTER-REAY SETS NEW PERSONAL BEST FOR OVAL-TRACK INDYCAR QUALIFYING WITH A FOURTH-PLACE RUN AT NASHVILLE

NASHVILLE - Rahal Letterman Racing and Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) wanted to come marching into Nashville and keep the momentum going from its drought-ending win at Watkins Glen, and Friday's qualifying showed that the team and driver hadn't backed off a bit.

Hunter-Reay set a new personal best for IndyCar qualifying on an oval track as he put up a four-lap average of 203.306 mph to earn the fourth starting spot for tomorrow night's Firestone Indy 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway. Hunter-Reay snapped off four laps that were within .04 seconds of each other in snaring the fourth spot, putting him on the outside of the second row alongside rookie Hideki Mutoh.

"This is a very important qualifying track and this is a great start for Ethanol and Rahal Letterman Racing and I think we're going to be in good shape for tomorrow night," Hunter-Reay said. "We changed some things during the practice sessions today and to be honest, some of them didn't make perfect sense at the time, but they sure worked once we got on the track. Hopefully, we'll do like we did last week and keep making the car better and better."

The qualifying result was a bit of a surprise to those watching the morning and afternoon practices as the team and Hunter-Reay were 10th quickest after those sessions around the 1.33-mile oval. But as the team has done all season long, it kept working on the car, finding the right balance and made the car faster for qualifying.

Hunter-Reay was fourth after his first lap, but vaulted into second after his second and third orbits of the concrete palace located about 20 miles outside of Nashville. His fourth lap was just a tick off however, showing how close the IndyCar field is on the ovals as a drop of .037 seconds cost the Ethanol car two spots on the starting grid.

"This field is so strong and there are so many good teams that can find speed in these cars that any little misstep, no matter what it is, can cost you some spots," Hunter-Reay reported. "But we are pleased with how things went and we will be in a great position for tomorrow. Hopefully a second groove comes in and we can go racing, because if it doesn't, it could be a bit of a procession out there."

-credit: rlr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay , Hideki Mutoh