Ryan Hunter-Reay Wins IZOD IndyCar Series Championship, Finishes 4th in MAVTV 500

Ryan Hunter-Reay is the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series champion. Hunter-Reay grabbed four victories this season, and finished fourth Saturday evening in the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway to win the title over Will Power. Hunter-Reay is the first American-born driver to capture the IZOD IndyCar Championship since 2006 (Sam Hornish, Jr).

Hunter-Reay entered today’s 500-mile race 17 points behind Power, who crashed early in the race and finished 24th.

“Man, did we do what we had to do! I cannot believe this. It hasn’t sunk in. We just raced 500 miles but we got the championship for Andretti Autosport, DHL, Sun Drop, Circle K, Chevrolet… Man, this is a dream come true. Thank you to all the fans for coming out tonight.

“There were a lot of good cars out there tonight and to be able to put that together was tough.”

This is Hunter-Reay’s first career championship , as he extends his distinction of being the most successful active American driver in the IndyCar Series.

About his decision to sign two-year contract extension with Andretti Autosport: “This is the right place to be, absolutely. The team – I can’t say enough about ’em, This is a total team effort. This whole championship came down to all the cars we had, and the drivers like Marco (Andretti), James (Hinchcliffe) and Sebastian (Saavedra) coming in today – it was a total team effort. We struggled with set-up, but we put it all together, and we went out there and performed and brought it home when we needed to. We’ve won the championship by one point, and man, did we have to fight for it.”

Are you ready for the big $1 million check: (stammers) “Oh… my… no… I’m not ready… I, I can’t even believe this has happened yet. I’m still soaking this whole thing in.”

The late red flag wasn’t what you wanted to see?: “I just wanted to get set back into a rhythm…, but I knew after that red flag I was just sitting there and thinking the tires would take another heat cycle and that we would slide around a bit more. Everybody raced tough, but they raced clean and my God… I don’t know about the race but we just kept making (the car) better and better and they did a great job with the radio and the guys did a great job in the pits. This hasn’t sunk in yet as I am just full of adrenaline. ”

How close were you to Will Power when he crashed?: “You know, I don’t know, he (Will Power) was right next to me and I saw him lose it. I feel like it was pretty close but I have no idea, you tell me.”

Hunter-Reay has now been the top-finishing American driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series points for three seasons in a row. Hunter-Reay is the only driver to score victories in IZOD IndyCar, CART Champ Car, Grand-Am and the American Le Mans series.

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