Hunter-Reay strikes first in opening Road America practice

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ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Ryan Hunter-Reay came as close as ever to winning the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR a year ago, finishing second. The Andretti Autosport driver set out to do one better in the 2019 race, leading Friday’s opening practice at Road America.

REV GROUP GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY AMR: Practice 1 results

Hunter-Reay turned a best lap of 1 minute, 43.7556 seconds (139.273 mph) on the 4.014-mile permanent road course, the longest circuit on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule, to lead the 23-car field. The driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda said the 45-minute session gave him and his crew a solid baseline to build on for the rest of the weekend.

“It was a good first session,” Hunter-Reay said. “We just threw a couple changes at it and got a good feel for what we can do in P2. We’ll make some more changes and try to get ready for the race.

“So far, the No. 28 DHL car is good. We’ll work on it from here. It’s still very early in the weekend, though.”

Hunter-Reay was followed closely on the timesheet by Takuma Sato in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver, who won earlier this season on the road course at Barber Motorsports Park, was clocked at 1:43.8244 (139.181 mph).

Reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2017 Road America winner Scott Dixon was third in the session, with a lap of 1:43.9842 (138.967 mph) in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. The tight competition throughout the field was in evidence in the practice, which saw the top 12 drivers within a second of Hunter-Reay on the lengthy, high-speed circuit.

Defending race winner and 2019 points leader Josef Newgarden was fifth in opening practice with a lap of 1:44.0706 (138.852 mph) in the No. 2 REV Group Team Penske Chevrolet. Newgarden carries a 25-point lead in the standings over Alexander Rossi into the weekend.

A second 45-minute practice is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. ET Friday and streams live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold. That will be followed a 30-minute session starting at 5 p.m. that includes live pit-stop practice.

The final practice begins at noon ET Saturday, also streaming on NBC Sports Gold. NTT P1 Award qualifying to set the starting grid starts at 4 p.m. Saturday, streams live on NBC Sports Gold and will be telecast by NBCSN on a delayed basis at 5 p.m.

Sunday’s race will be the 29th for Indy cars on the popular Road America circuit. Past winners include greats Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jacques Villeneuve, Alex Zanardi and Dario Franchitti. Live coverage begins at noon ET Sunday on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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