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IndyCar Season Preview: Ryan Hunter-Reay

Photo credit: Ned Leone

#28 DHL/Sun Drop Dallara-Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport

Born: December 17, 1980

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: Hunter-Reay took a controversial victory at Loudon after inheriting the lead from Dario Franchitti, holding it for 71 laps, and surviving the rain-marred restart that was eventually annulled. From Iowa to the end of the season, Hunter-Reay only finished outside of the top 10 once, making him one of the hottest drivers in the second half of the year.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: For much of the early part of the season, Hunter-Reay and his team couldn’t get anything together. Rock bottom came at Indianapolis, when teammate Marco Andretti bumped him from the race in the last qualifying attempt of the month. Hunter-Reay then had to buy out Bruno Junqueira’s May-only ride with A.J. Foyt Enterprises to compete in the race and finish a dismal 23rd.

SEASON OUTLOOK: Hunter-Reay initially struggled to adjust to a Tony Kanaan-less Andretti Autosport, but a strong second half of the year brought him back to seventh place in points. Now without Danica Patrick, Hunter-Reay and teammate Marco Andretti will be the undisputed leaders of the organization. One of Hunter-Reay’s biggest issues during his tough times last season was a lack of discipline, both on track and with the media; that will have to fade away in 2012, especially as his contract expires at the end of the season.

But there’s a reason why Hunter-Reay is the only driver to ever win a race in CART, Champ Car, and IndyCar: he’s one of the top talents in the sport. He’s posted strong finishes at just about every track on the schedule, and as one of the top Chevrolet drivers not employed by Roger Penske, he represents one of the brand’s best hopes to score race victories in 2012. He might not crack the top five in points, but the top 10 is certainly attainable.

– Chris Leone

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Comments

  1. Steve Grossinger says:

    Leading a race for 71 laps and then winning it is controversial? It was controversial of the officials to try and restart an oval race in the rain, but the win was well earned.

    Hunter-Reay ‘struggled to adjust to a Tony Kanaan-less Andretti Autosport’ ??? Hunter-Reay was hired 2010 because Tony Kanaan was not getting the results the team demanded and according to TK immediately helped Kanaan with road and street course set-ups and to improve Kanaan’s competitiveness. Hunter-Reay led Kanaan in the 2010 Championship until the final race of the season in Homestead and it was Hunter-Reay that scored the only win of the year for Andretti Autosport returning them to the winners circle for the first time in years. RHR scored wins in 2009, 2010, and 2011 compared to Kanaan who went winless in two out of the three years.

    ‘Lack of discipline’??? Getting hit from behind at St. Pete, Baltimore, and a few others there isn’t much discipline can do to help that. How does a driver have ‘lack of discipline’ with the media outside of a Busch like meltdown? Might not crack the top five in points? Andretti Autosport gives him the car he will challenge for the Championship, if they don’t look for Penske to go after him for 2013.

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