By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin — Ryan Hunter-Reay was the fastest Honda during qualifying ahead of Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix but that wasn’t good enough to get him on the front row at Road America for the tenth race in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
The No. 28 DHL Honda was second fastest in the first group of knockout qualifying, only bested by Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi. Rossi would set the fastest time in the second round of knockout qualifying while Hunter-Reay would be third fastest to advance to the Firestone Fast Six, beating out fellow Andretti Autosport competitor Zach Veach who ended up 11th.
Hunter-Reay, whose best finish at Road America was 4th in 2004 and 2016, ended up third fastest in the Firestone Fast Six after setting a lap of 1 minute, 43.3811 seconds to average 139.778 mph.
“It was a good start to the weekend, I think,” said Hunter-Reay. “We weren’t here for the test last week, so we’ve been a little bit behind the 8-ball trying to figure out what this car needs here at Road America. But really thankful that the team has given me some good setup changes and it’s given me what I needed to rally maximize the potential of the car.”
And maximize Hunter-Reay has. The 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner was 13th on the time sheet after the Friday morning practice session which became eighth after the Friday afternoon session and second after Saturday’s practice but those gains couldn’t stop Josef Newgarden and Will Power from locking out a Team Penske front row.
“Just came up a little short there,” said the 2012 IndyCar champion. “All of a sudden Josef and Will popped up in the top two out of nowhere. I thought I had a lap that was going to be close enough for pole at the end, and just had a bit of a bobble through 12, just a little bit light out there on the used reds and just came up a bit short. We can definitely work on it from third and it’s going to be interesting tomorrow with no warmup.”
Rossi ended up fourth while Marco Andretti was the lowest placed Andretti Autosport car in 15th. The Kohler Grand Prix airs on NBCSN starting at 11:33 a.m. CDT.