Richmond: Rahal Letterman Racing race report

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TAKEN OUT OF RICHMOND SURVIVAL RACE IN CRASH WITH MORAES RICHMOND - Starting from the rear of the IndyCar Series field in Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge, Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TAKEN OUT OF RICHMOND SURVIVAL RACE IN CRASH WITH MORAES

RICHMOND - Starting from the rear of the IndyCar Series field in Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge, Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) of Rahal Letterman Racing knew that he was going to have to be patient and rely on a number of variables if he was to get to the front.

Hunter-Reay and the Rahal Letterman squad got its share of breaks in the first 125 laps of tonight's race at the 0.75-mile Richmond International Raceway oval, but things went sour on Lap 144 when Hunter-Reay got collected during an attempted pass by Mario Moraes, sending both cars in the Turn Four fence and ending the night for the Ohio-based team.

Stuck in the rear of the 26-car field after an electrical failure prevented the team from qualifying on Friday, Hunter-Reay recovered from a first-lap spin and picked his way through the field with the use of eight cautions and had climbed into the top 10 after just 94 circuits of Richmond's D-shaped oval.

He was running 13th on Lap 144 with four cars ahead of him running up front only after they skipped the last set of stops brought out by Graham Rahal's Lap 132 crash, when he ran afoul of the Moraes move.

"I didn't even know that he was down there, but it looked like he had his left front (tire) inside of my right rear and came up into me," Hunter-Reay said. "I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt until I saw the tape of the crash but now I don't know that I can do that. It's just short-track racing. Everybody out there was just running around in line and being patient. We weren't even halfway done."

Hunter-Reay benefited from a record number of caution periods to make up his way up the grid. He jumped to 21st when Will Power crashed, moved to 14th when John Andretti took out A.J. Foyt IV and was 11th after Vitor Meira ran into Bruno Junquiera at the same time that Buddy Rice spun on a Lap 79 restart.

He moved into the top 10 for the first time on Lap 94 when John Andretti and Meira crashed again, and it appeared that despite the fact that the car was a handful to drive in close quarters on the tiny track, Hunter-Reay was going to be in position to help himself in the championship points.

But the charge came to an end soon after as the 19-year-old Moraes came under Hunter-Reay heading into Turn Four. The carnage continued in the race but Hunter-Reay could not benefit as his car was packed onto the transporter, leaving him to finish 16th.

"We had a busy race out there tonight," quipped Hunter-Reay. "I was holding my breath on every lap. We were just out there surviving and trying to get some points and we can't even get that done without something like this happening to us. I hate it for the guys on the team that have to fix the car, but we'll be back next week."

Hunter-Reay and the Rahal Letterman Racing squad will be back in action next week as the journey to one of the country's most fabled road courses, Watkins Glen. The road race will take place Sunday afternoon and can be seen at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. This will be Hunter-Reay's first trip to the New York track in an Indy Car.

-credit: rlr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers John Andretti , A.J. Foyt IV , Bruno Junqueira , Graham Rahal , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Buddy Rice , Will Power , Mario Moraes , Vitor Meira