Ryan Hunter-Reay leads IndyCar Series open test at Mid-Ohio

USA TODAY Sports

The defending IndyCar Series champion will need a late surge to defend his title but placed himself in good position during an open test on Wednesday at Mid-Ohio.

Ryan Hunter-Reay still believes he can make a late-summer run at back-to-back championships and he showed he has the speed to do it on Wednesday afternoon when he turned the fastest lap in an open-test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Hunter-Reay saved his best lap for his final attempt, turning a lap time of 1 minute, 5.6358 seconds around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course to lead the one-day session in advance of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

"It was a good day," Hunter-Reay said. "We 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-fatest lap followed by Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais and IndyCar Series championship leader Helio Castroneves.

Scott Dixon has won the last two IndyCar races at Mid-Ohio and is coming off his third-consecutive win in the Series after sweeping both races in Toronto -- he was sixth-fastest on Wednesday.

Hunter-Reay recently said in a news release that he and his Andretti Autosport crew was a "tenacious bunch" and that they were determined to make a late-season run at the championship.

"You hear past champions talk about that in a championship year, things tend to go your way," Hunter-Reay said on Wednesday. "You get on a hot streak and things fall into place.

"I thought we were on that earlier in the year and we still can be on it. We've come back from bigger deficits than this so I'm optimistic. From Pocono to Toronto - eight days - we had a terrible run and we're ready to turn that around."

Three-straight finishes outside of the top-18 at Pocono and Toronto has left Hunter-Reay 69 points behind with just six races remaining. But recent history is on his side with Dario Franchitti making up 59 points to Will Power over four races to win the championship in 2010.

So in many ways, this championship battle is far from over. The complete times from the Mid-Ohio open test have been provided below:

  1. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 1:05.6358
  2. Simon Pagenaud
  3. Will Power
  4. Sebastien Bourdais
  5. Helio Castroneves
  6. Scott Dixon
  7. James Hinchcliffe
  8. Justin Wilson
  9. Marco Andretti
  10. Charlie Kimball
  11. James Jakes
  12. Oriol Servia
  13. Tony Kanaan
  14. Takuma Sato
  15. EJ Viso
  16. Simona de Silvestro
  17. Sebastan Saavedra
  18. Luca Fillippi
  19. Tristan Vautier
  20. Josef Newgarden
  21. James Davison
  22. Dario Franchitti
  23. Ed Carpenter
  24. Graham Rahal

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