HILLIARD, Ohio - The 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway has a villainous reputation among open-wheel racing aficionados as its high-banked corners promote speeds that test the limits of the car and driver. The blinding speeds and close racing...
HILLIARD, Ohio - The 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway has a villainous reputation among open-wheel racing aficionados as its high-banked corners promote speeds that test the limits of the car and driver.
The blinding speeds and close racing are a daunting challenge for even the most seasoned driver, but for Rahal Letterman Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone), it is just another chapter of his racing education as he visits another IndyCar Series site for the first time.
Hunter-Reay has nearly five years of major-league racing on his resume, but his travails over the open-wheel landscape have kept him off of the Texas pavement until this weekend's Bombardier Learjet 550.
But the Floridian is well-versed in what it takes to get up to speed at a new track as he plows through his first full-time IndyCar season. Hunter-Reay has three top-seven results through six races this year and each of those have come on circuits that he had never raced on prior to the 2008 event weekend.
"I joined Champ Car just after they stopped coming to Texas, so this is another new track for me, but we've really done a good job in finding our way in a short amount of time," Hunter-Reay said. "We haven't been the quickest guys in first-day practice anywhere we go, but the guys have shown that they know how to improve a car over a session and we usually have a good race car when it counts."
The #17 team is looking to turn things around this weekend after a trying trip to Milwaukee that saw Hunter-Reay fighting to keep the car off the wall instead of fighting for position. Last week's 15th-place finish dropped the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year to 12th in the point standings but actually narrowed the gap to fifth-placed Danica Patrick to just 24.
"Rahal Letterman has had some success at Texas and won the pole last year so I feel confident that we'll have a strong baseline when we roll off," reporter Hunter-Reay. "The track will be pretty busy but there seem to be a few lines through the turns so we'll have some options. I used to watch this race whenever I could when I was in Champ Car and I am looking forward to getting into one of these battles. We just have to take care of the car and stay out of trouble."