Rahal Letterman Racing announced today that Ryan Hunter-Reay will be taking over driving duties with the team’s #17 Team Ethanol car effective immediately. I look forward to meeting him soon and I’m sad to see Jeff Simmons replaced. As Bobby Rahal explains in the announcement which I’ve posted below, Jeff stepped into a difficult situation last season. I think Jeff is a class act and was doing a great job as a spokesperson for the team and Team Ethanol. We’ll miss him and wish him and his fiance, Stephanie, all the best.
So let’s all welcome new Team Ethanol car driver Ryan and hope he has an awesome start at the upcoming Honda Mid-Ohio 200 in Lexington, Ohio.
Rahal Letterman Racing today announces that American open-wheel and sports car race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay will take over as the driver of the team’s #17 Ethanol-sponsored car in the IndyCar Series, effective immediately.
“We have made important strides in our IndyCar program this year and we feel like this is something that we needed to do to maintain that pattern of improvement and growth,” said RLR co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Jeff stepped into a difficult situation last season and did a lot for our team and our sponsors, but we feel at this time, that this is the right move for the long-term future of Rahal Letterman Racing.”
Hunter-Reay worked his way up the American open-wheel ladder, having great success at every level. He began his career by winning six national karting championships before moving onto the Skip Barber program, where he was rookie-of-the-year in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2000. He moved to Toyota Atlantic competition in 2002, and led the series with three race wins and three poles, while also pacing the championship in laps led. The performance caught the attention of road-racing ace Stefan Johansson, who hired Ryan to drive for his first-year Champ Car World Series squad in 2003.
He became the first American rookie in 20 years to win a Champ Car race with a victory in Australia in 2003, then set a series record by leading all 250 laps in a 2004 victory at the Milwaukee Mile. Hunter-Reay made 43 Champ Car starts over three seasons with two wins, one pole and 18 top-10 results. He has spent the last two seasons running part-time in the Rolex Grand American Series, where he co-drove with current NASCAR Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson in this years Daytona 24 Hour Race, as well as in A1GP competition.
“I am very happy to be joining a quality organization such as Rahal Letterman Racing,” Hunter-Reay said. “This is a strong opportunity for me and I am eager to help the team move forward and get some results through the remainder of the season.”