LEXINGTON, OH – Ryan Hunter-Reay knew that this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 could be the race that ended his recent string of bad races. See, heading into this weekend’s NTT IndyCar Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the Andretti Autosport driver had finishes of 11th, 16th and 17th respectively.
His last top 10 came on June 8 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Then, a fifth place run in the DXC Technology 600 was his seventh top eight finishes in his last eight starts on the season. He was seventh in the points standings but very much in striking distance.
Over the last three races though, he fell too far behind. He’s still seventh, but was nearly 200 points out with five races remaining.
So, for him to bring his No. 28 Honda home third in Sunday’s race, it was a finish he so desperately needed. It was Hunter-Reay first podium since the second race of the season in COTA (March 24) and his first podium on the 2.258-mile road course since 2011.
“We started tenth,” said Hunter-Reay of his day. “Amazing strategy from this 28 DHL Honda team. Obviously we’ve had a string of pretty poor results lately, and it’s just a matter of execution. We stumbled at Iowa. We really gambled when it went cold at night. We thought it was going to be more of an understeering race, and we put all our money down on the table and we lost it all in the first hand. That’s how sometimes this sport goes. But we were close today.
“We were closing in on these guys. Obviously congrats to Ganassi. They ran a great race, good strategy, and we were closing on them, but just came up a little bit too short, so if we keep knocking on the door like that, we’ll win plenty. It was nice to just get back on form where we should be.
“I feel like we’re just back to where we really should be. We’ve had speed. You look at Road America, we had speed. We had speed at plenty of the races. We finished fourth and fifth at Detroit, just missed the podiums there. We were just missing a little something. We definitely had it this weekend. We got it back. We qualified 10th. That put us in a pretty big hole to dig ourselves out of. But it’s just little things. Right now as competitive as this series is, if you’re missing a tenth and a half here or a tenth there, it’s a big deficit, and if you’re not executing 100 percent on strategy or approach or any of it, there’s going to be somebody else who is. Yeah, we just missed a few, and it’s nice to be back where we should be when we executed. That’s what we did today.”
Hunter-Reay now has six top 10 finishes in his last seventh Mid-Ohio starts but this one nearly didn’t happen. The American made contact with Josef Newgarden in the key hole on the final lap which nearly took both of the drivers out. Hunter-Reay, bobbled but continued on while Newgarden spun.