Ryan Hunter-Reay is the winner of today’s IZOD IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by SRT, driving the Team DHL / Sun Drop Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport.
Ryan Hunter-Reay won for a league-leading fourth time this season as he drove the No. 28 DHL / Sun Drop Chevy to a victory in the Grand Prix of Baltimore. Hunter-Reay is now 17 points behind leader Will Power going into the season finale, a 500-mile race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Hunter-Reay starting in the 10th position, and took full advantage of a strategic call by team owner Michael Andretti to stay out on slick tires when others pitted for rain tires when a light rain fell during an early caution period. Hunter-Reay managed to stay in front as the track eventually dried, leading 13 laps overall and taking the lead for good on a lap 69 (of 75) restart.
“What a day for Andretti Autosport. You know, it’s an Andretti Sports Marketing event, and we needed to do it (win) now… We needed to do it and we need to do it at Fontana. I’m sure I’ll have a great car there.”
About taking the lead without rain tires on a wet track: “I can’t really describe how nerve-wracking it is when it rains on a street circuit and you’re on slicks and you know the championship is on the line and you know if you get through it you’re going to have a great race. Unbelievable emotions in the car, trying to tip-toe through some of those corners. These cars are very stiffly sprung and they’re 700 horsepower and putting that down on a city street when it’s wet is one of the toughest things in racing. I’m just glad I got through that. It was very nerve-wracking. I enjoy racing in the wet, but I prefer rain tires when it’s wet. We thought it was just going to sprinkle, and we went through a bit of a wet track, and hoped that that sprinkle would end. You know, we never came in for rain tires, and it was absolutely critical to our win today.
“You never like being out there on slicks – that’s not a nice feeling, especially the fast, fourth-gear Turn 11… man, that was crazy! (Team owner and strategist Michael Andretti) said let’s just see what happens – he said to me, ‘we’re going for the championship, you know, and we’re gonna do it. Let ‘s do it. Coming in fourth or fifth isn’t going to do anything for us.’ I look up to that. That’s a pretty great move and it worked out. I had to keep the thing off the walls while it was drying and then when it started drying I had a big smile on my face for sure.”
About his DHL / Sun Drop No. 28 team: “I really believe in what these guys can do and… it was an amazing day. Couldn’t write the script any better.”
About narrowing the championship chase with one race remaining: “I kind of learned a little bit about myself, because the championship’s on the line today and that’s the only thing I really focused on. I’m fixated on winning. I mean, this is all I’ve worked for my entire life and to come this close… I haven’t been nervous at all or anything. I’ve been enjoying it and driving 110% and really getting along with the car. I feel like I’m in rhythm with the car, so hopefully we’ll have that at Fontana too. I’m enjoying it. I’m glad I don’t feel really nervous between races or on the race weekends. I haven’t had any of that. Keeping it light and fun.”
“I’m certainly very thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve had in my life and in racing. I’ve been able to drive a lot of different race cars and I think all things happen for a reason. If you keep working for something, it’s going to come good if you believe in it, most of all. That’s how I’ve gone about it. The period from the end of ’05 through the middle of ’07 there (when Hunter-Reay was without a ride), those were the longest days of my life… not having a ride, not having anything. That was long time period. I just kept my face at the racetrack and kept the faith it would work out. Just like life, the more you put in, the more you get out. That makes me really appreciate, it just means that much more. I have a beautiful IndyCar sitting there waiting for me and it’s my job to drive it. I mean, how cool is that? It’s awesome. Awesome. Couldn’t think of anything better.”
This is the ninth career Indy car victory for Hunter-Reay, a 31-year-old resident of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
This is his sixth career win with Andretti Autosport, and he extends his distinction of being the winningest active American driver in the IndyCar Series.
His previous IZOD IndyCar Series victories were: Toronto (2012/Andretti Autosport), Iowa (2012/Andretti Autosport), Milwaukee (2012/Andretti Autosport), New Hampshire (2011/Andretti Autosport), Long Beach (2010/Andretti Autosport) and Watkins Glen (2008/Rahal Letterman Racing). He also has victories in the CART/Champ Car Series at Milwaukee and Surfer’s Paradise.
Hunter-Reay has been the top-finishing American driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series points the last two seasons. Hunter-Reay is the only driver to score victories in IZOD IndyCar, CART Champ Car, Grand-Am and the American Le Mans series.