EDMONTON, Alberta — Ryan Hunter-Reay bounced back from a rough opening day at Edmonton on Saturday with a pole-winning run that surprised the IndyCar Series points leader.
Because Hunter-Reay went into the qualifying session knowing he’ll be penalized 10 spots on today’s starting grid for an unapproved engine change, his Andretti Autosport team gambled on using older tires when rain began to fall midway through the qualifying session. The tire choice was based on Hunter-Reay hoping to start between 11th and 14th after the penalty.
“We worked really hard to come to the decision to go to the used reds (tires),” he said. “Instead we went and got the pole, so double bonus.”
Hunter-Reay has won the past three IndyCar races to move into the points lead. He’s the first American since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 to lead the IndyCar standings, and after picking up a point for winning the pole, he’ll take a 35-point lead over Will Power into today’s race.
It is only the second pole of Hunter-Reay’s IndyCar career. The previous was in 2004 at Milwaukee. He’ll start 11th once the penalty is applied.
NATIONWIDE SERIES: Chicagoland Speedway is about the closest thing Danica Patrick has to a home track in NASCAR.
Although the 1.5-mile oval on the outskirts of Chicago’s southwest suburbs didn’t play a part in her early racing career – it didn’t open until 2001 – it’s only about 100 miles away from her hometown of Rockford, Ill.
That means she’ll have plenty of family and friends here for today’s race.
“As a kid, I loved going into the city, downtown Chicago,” Patrick said. “It’s a beautiful place. I know we’re a little bit away from there, but I’ve got some friends coming out to the track this weekend, so it’ll be a couple extra people than normal. But it’s close to home, and that’s good, and I’ll see a few familiar faces.”
Patrick was second-fastest in Saturday afternoon’s final practice session.
FORMULA ONE: Points leader Fernando Alonso secured pole position for today’s German Grand Prix.
The Spaniard edged Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber. Michael Schumacher was fourth during qualifying.