Hunter-Reay records best career finish at Texas

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As he and the other drivers coped with having to manage their tires with an aerodynamic package containing less downforce than they had one year ago at Texas Motor Speedway, Ryan Hunter-Reay found himself in what he later described as a “battle.”

“It was like, at times, a race against yourself, just to save the tires and keep yourself off the wall,” said Hunter-Reay, who persevered and claimed a second-place finish behind race winner Helio Castroneves – his best result ever at TMS.

“It was just a very challenging race…It’s so difficult to get the package exactly right with the downforce and the tires and the degradation of the tires, and as a series, we’re working toward that.”

Hunter-Reay took the lead after pit stops under yellow at Lap 58, marking his first-ever laps led at the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth. He led teammate Marco Andretti for the next stint until he pitted on Lap 94 for tires and fuel.

The reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion wouldn’t see the lead again for the rest of the night, but stayed toward the front even as his strategy was altered by a caution at Lap 113 that was caused by a spin-and-save job from Oriol Servia; his Andretti Autosport team decided to bring him to pit road during that yellow period.

From there, Hunter-Reay would again pit with the leaders one last time at Lap 175 and found himself in second behind Castroneves with 20 laps to go. He shaved several seconds off of Castroneves’ sizable lead but there simply wasn’t enough time to do anything serious against the Brazilian.

Now, Hunter-Reay sets his sights on replicating his victory one year ago at the Milwaukee Mile (Sat., 4 pm ET, NBC Sports Network). That touched off a three-race win streak last summer that also saw him triumph on the bullring at Iowa and the street course at Toronto.

And with himself in a heated points battle this year with Castroneves, Andretti and now Tony Kanaan, he’ll most certainly be looking for more of that magic in the weeks ahead.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.