INDIANAPOLIS – Standing in victory circle after winning the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Ryan Hunter-Reay pointed to each member of the No. 28 DHL crew as a way of recognizing their efforts that went into the April 27 victory at Barber Motorsports Park.
It was the second consecutive win on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn road course for Hunter-Reay, who led teammate Marco Andretti across the finish line under caution in a timed race brought about by a 2-hour, 30-minute rain delay.
“It was a huge race for us. This track used to be one of our weakest points,” said Hunter-Reay, who moved 18 points behind championship leader Will Power of Team Penske with his 12th Indy car victory. “To put Andretti 1-2, it’s impressive. Everybody has been working hard to move in the same direction. It’s been a very strong start to the season for this team overall.”
Collectively, the four Andretti Autosport drivers have an average starting position of 6.5 and six appearances in the Firestone Fast Six. Hunter-Reay won the pole at Long Beach and has started on row two in the other races. James Hinchcliffe has a pair of front-row starts, and rookie Carlos Munoz has started seventh twice (missing the Firestone Fast Six at Barber by .0040 of a second).
The foursome has an average finish of 12.1, with three podium finishes. Each has been subject to contact or a mechanical issue, which has impacted results. Last year, Andretti, Hinchcliffe, Hunter-Reay and E.J. Viso had an average finish of 12.8 through the same three events.
“That’s the thing in IndyCar these days, that’s how it goes,” said Hunter-Reay, who was on pace for a podium at Long Beach until being involved in a multi-car incident on Lap 56 of 80. “You’ve just got to show up with a good attitude on race day. Doesn’t matter how warm-up went or your last qualifying session, you have a shot in the race.
“(At Barber) I didn’t have any expectations up front. Just went for it.”
The inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10 is the next test before practice begins the next day for the 98th Indianapolis 500. Drivers will participate in an open test on April 30 on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course and have two practice sessions May 8.
“It’s the first time you can say, ‘How is this going to help you going into Indy?’ ” team owner Michael Andretti said. “Well, this might help us. Our cars have been running well on these types of tracks. Hopefully, Indy will be similar to (Barber).”