RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING AND RYAN HUNTER-REAY EARN TOP-10 STARTING SPOT IN TEXAS FORT WORTH - Like he did last weekend at Milwaukee, Ryan Hunter-Reay ( ...
RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING AND RYAN HUNTER-REAY EARN TOP-10 STARTING SPOT IN TEXAS
FORT WORTH - Like he did last weekend at Milwaukee, Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) used a clutch final lap to gain a spot in Friday's PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award qualifying at the Texas Motor Speedway, vaulting to the 10th spot on the 28-car grid for Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550.
Following its customary approach in 2008, the Rahal Letterman Racing squad continued to move up the speed charts throughout the day, finishing higher in each of the week's three on-track sessions. The march up the ladder was steady all day long as the last of Hunter-Reay's four qualifying laps was his fastest of the week, stopping the clocks with a time of 24.6176 seconds (212.775 mph).
The final orbit of the 1.5-mile oval boosted his four-lap average to 212.482 mph and earned Hunter-Reay and the RLR squad its fourth top-10 starting spot of the season and its first since Twin Ring Motegi in April.
"That's about where I thought we'd run today," Hunter-Reay reported. "We'll take it, I thought we might find another tenth of a second, but this is OK. You can race your way to the front here and it's going to be a long night so I think we're in pretty decent shape for tomorrow."
The team built speed in the Ethanol-sponsored car all day, dipping into the 212-mph range during a qualifying simulation in this afternoon's final practice, giving Hunter-Reay the confidence to go out and hang up four fast laps when it came time for qualifying. Three of his four qualifying laps were faster than anything he had done in practice this week and gave him a top-10 starting berth in his first-ever visit to the treacherous TMS oval.
"Our guys did a nice job building on what we were able to learn yesterday despite the fact that we didn't have as much track time as you would like to have before qualifying," said RLR Chief Operating Officer Scott Roembke. "But with a deep and talented field like we have now in IndyCar, anytime you can get the car in the top 10 in qualifying, you've beaten some good teams and good drivers, so our team should be happy and look to move to the front when it counts tomorrow."
Hunter-Reay's strong last lap enabled him to leapfrog ahead of Dan Wheldon in the qualifying results, although Wheldon did well just to get back on track after a barrel-roll crash during the afternoon practice ruined his primary car and sent him to the backup Target Chip Ganassi Racing machine. Hunter-Reay will start on the outside of Row 5, gridding alongside former Rahal Letterman Racing shoe Vitor Meira.