07/31/13 Ryan Hunter-Reay saved his best lap for his last lap at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion showed no ill effects for a two-week layoff turning a lap of 1 minute 5.6358 seconds on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course to lead the one-day IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test in advance of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
"It was a good day," said Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet. "Made some major gains and we're pretty happy with the car. This track is similar to Barber and we've been quick on the big natural terrain road courses. I'm happy with the work that the Andretti Autosport boys have done over the last two weeks and I'm sure we'll find even more speed for Friday."
Simon Pagenaud turned the second-quickest lap of 1:05.7965 in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda followed by Will Power (1:05.8206) of Team Penske, Sebastien Bourdais (1:05.9654) of Dragon Racing and IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Helio Castroneves (1:05.9710).
Scott Dixon, who has won the last three IZOD IndyCar Series races and is aiming for his third straight win at Mid-Ohio, was sixth at 1:06.1025. A little more than a second separated the top 16 drivers on the timesheet.
Hunter-Reay expects the field to be just as tight when practice for the Aug. 4 race begins on Aug. 2.
"I expect the Penske and Ganassi boys to be right up there on Friday," Hunter-Reay said. "It's going to be super-tight as it always is here. Hopefully, the No. 1 DHL Chevy can stay up front."
De Silvestro really gets into her role: KV Racing Technology's Simona De Silvestro drove home the importance of science, technology, engineering and math to more than 30 middle-school students July 30 in the Ohio Energy Project's Activating and Energizing Girls' Involvement in Science (AEGIS) program in Columbus, Ohio.
De Silvestro, who drives the No. 78 Chevrolet-powered Nuclear Clean Air Energy IndyCar, spoke about the connections between racing, clean energy and engineering. She also participated in the hands-on activities, including donning the protective safety clothing used by nuclear energy facility personnel during outage service activities.
"They call it the banana suit, which was pretty funny," De Silvestro said during a break at the Open Test. "I think my driving suit is a lot more comfortable.
"It was awesome to see the girls take an interest in the program and what's available. I told them that in racing I wouldn't be fast if I didn't have engineers behind me to make the car go fast and the same thing is in the nuclear clean energy business. The other thing is the teamwork we have so it all kind of ties together."
Of note: Firestone Racing took advantage of the morning rain at Mid-Ohio by having Hunter-Reay compare the current spec and new-for-2014 wet tires on the road course. ... James Jakes, driver of the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, celebrates his 26th birthday on Aug. 4 (race day). ... Justin Wilson turned 35 on July 31. ... Ryan Briscoe will join Leigh Diffey and Townsend Bell in the NBC Sports Network broadcast booth for the Mid-Ohio race.
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