FORT WORTH- The annals of the Texas Motor Speedway are filled with treacherous acts perpetrated upon unsuspecting IndyCar Series drivers, making Ryan Hunter-Reay's ( ...
FORT WORTH- The annals of the Texas Motor Speedway are filled with treacherous acts perpetrated upon unsuspecting IndyCar Series drivers, making Ryan Hunter-Reay's (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) first-ever practice session on the 1.5-mile oval a reason to be careful - but then Mother Nature upped the ante.
As if 28 cars on one of the series' fastest tracks wasn't enough, Thursday's first practice for Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550 featured 90-degree track temperatures and gusting winds that routinely topped 25 mph. The conditions made the learning curve a little steeper for Hunter-Reay and the Rahal Letterman Racing team, but both the driver and the team persevered in getting some laps under their belts as they prepared for tomorrow's PEAK Motor Oil Pole qualifying session.
Hunter-Reay was 19th on the speed sheets after posting a best lap of 24.9169 seconds (210.219 mph), despite the fact that a lengthy gear change and wind-aided handling issues limited the #17 car to just 32 trips around the TMS oval - 26th among the 28 cars entered for Saturday's race.
"We lost a lot of track time and the car was a handful just like last week," said Hunter-Reay. "The wind was tough and it was definitely tricking the car and making it very hard to drive, but the good cars didn't seem to be having much trouble out there. We'll get back after it tomorrow and try to earn a good starting spot in qualifying."
The RLR team turned a handful of laps early in the session before discovering that a gear change was in order. The team turned the task around in good time, but the winds and traffic limited the team to four more short stints on the evening - the longest of which was seven laps and came after IndyCar stewards decided to lengthen the 90-minute evening practice.
"We didn't exactly have the ideal conditions for Ryan's first time at Texas and despite the fact that we could have used the track time, the conditions led us to be more cautious than we normally would have been," said RLR Chief Operating Officer Scott Roembke. "We didn't feel the need to tune the car to these conditions as the weather forecasts are telling us that the next two days won't be as windy as tonight was. We decided that discretion was the better part of valor and we expect to be back on the beam tomorrow."