Vision Racing loans out Hunter-Reay to AJ Foyt team
Considered a win-win situation for all involved, Vision Racing driver Ryan Hunter-Reay will be taking over piloting duties of A.J. Foyt's ABC Supply entry for the remainder of the 2009 IndyCar season beginning at next weekend's Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway on June 20-21.
Hunter-Reay, who drove the No.21 Vision Honda Dallara to a second place podium finish in the 2009 season opener at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida, is currently tenth in the IndyCar Series Championship driver points standings. 'RHR' will have his driving services transferred to A.J. Foyt Racing as a temporary replacement for the injured Vitor Meira.
Meira, who is recovering from a back injury sustained in the Indianapolis 500 last month, is expected to return for the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where AJ Foyt Racing is expected to field two cars for the season finale in October.
Just days prior the start of the 2009 IndyCar season, Vision Racing announced the addition of American driving talent Ryan Hunter-Reay to the lineup as a compliment to Ed Carpenter and the No.20 Menards / Johns Manville / Lilly entry. While assuring a competitive full-time ride for the 2009 season for Hunter-Reay was important to the IndyCar Series, its promotional partner IZOD, as well as IndyCar fans, it was especially looked upon as a benefit to Vision Racing by leveraging Ryan's experience to help improve the team and advance its program.
"We knew there would be challenges bringing Ryan (Hunter-Reay) on board at such a late juncture, but we did so knowing the benefits it would have to our program on the long term," explained Vision Racing owner Tony George. "My commitment remains with keeping Ryan Hunter-Reay in the series and with Vision Racing for the long term. We had high hopes that we'd be able to attract the primary sponsorship necessary to continue through the course of the season and into the future. While those efforts have been rewarded with some positive developments and opportunities which we are actively pursuing and developing, it did not provide for the short terms needs and our ability to ensure a successful program for the balance of the season."
"We all have the big picture in mind for Vision's future, and that is not only to find our way to victory circle, but for Vision to have a program that is capable of challenging for the Championship," said Hunter-Reay. "As competitive as the Indy Racing League is today, those goals require a strong commitment not only by the team but also by sponsors and partners. In the very short time I have been at Vision their efforts in developing sponsorship and B2B opportunities have yielded positive results which have laid a strong foundation we intend to build on."
Hunter-Reay respects the fact that is not an overnight process.
"The reality of such a program demands equipment, resources, and an appropriate budget so the talented men and women of Vision Racing have the tools to succeed," added Hunter-Reay. "Together we have obtained the best result in the history of the team, and despite our challenges we remain in the top ten in the Championship. Knowing what I know today, I am optimistic of continuing with Vision in 2010 with a strong program. Again, I want to thank everyone on the Vision Team for their hard work and particularly Tony, Laura, Lauren, and the George Family for their continued support."
In order to serve everyone's best interests, Vision Racing began to re-evaluate its program following the Indianapolis 500.
"Following the Texas race, it became clear that this could be a reasonable solution to a number of challenges and it needed consideration," said George. "A.J. Foyt and I spoke candidly about what Ryan (Hunter-Reay) had to offer. We all feel Ryan will be able to contribute to their program and provide continuity for the rest of the season while they await Vitor (Meira)'s return."
Vision Racing will interrupt operation of the No. 21 entry with team members being temporarily reassigned to re-focus all efforts on the team's operation of the No.20 Menards entry with driver Ed Carpenter, as well the Firestone Indy Lights development program with driver James Davison.
Vision Racing will be back on track with Ed Carpenter at the helm of the No.20 Menards Honda Dallara when IndyCar Series racing resumes next weekend from the Iowa Speedway for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 on Sunday, June 21st, broadcast live on ABC-TV starting at 1 p.m. (ET).