ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – If Ryan Hunter-Reay didn’t have any bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. It seems like every time he has a car more than capable of reaching victory lane, some mechanical malfunction normally takes him out of contention.
Luckily on Sunday, Hunter-Reay showed just how good of a car he really had and made most wonder what if?
Hunter-Reay, was quickest on the overall speed charts on Friday. He was third quickest in the first session, tops in the second.
He made the Firestone Fast Six and qualified his No. 28 Honda sixth for Sunday’s season opener. With three of the five drivers starting in front of him not having any prior Verizon IndyCar Series experience prior to Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete, odds were in his favor.
Instead, after coming off of the final turn on the final pace lap to take the green flag for the first time of the 2018 season, Hunter-Reay peeled off the race track and followed the pace car down pit road.
That’s where the bad luck ended and some good fortunes came his way. The team was able to reset the ECU on his No. 28 Honda and he didn’t fall down a lap. Also, there were several incidents going on around the 1.8-mile street circuit, causing a first lap yellow.
That allowed him not only make up some positions, but he closed in to the tail end of the field. He’d steadily move up throughout the race, finally coming home with a fifth place finish. It was his fifth top five in the last seven St. Pete starts, including three straight.
But, for the American driver, he had to wonder what might have been.
“The bad luck seems to end up happening at just the worst times,” said Hunter-Reay. “The car has been awesome all weekend, so to have an electronic issue happen when we are coming to the green – man, the luck. We started the race from pit lane and ended up fifth, so a great job by the team. I was hustling my rear end off out there today. That No. 28 DHL Honda sure was quick and deserved a better finish than it had. We just need to have better luck, or no luck, and hopefully we can start finishing these things right up at the front. It was great to have all our friends from DHL and AutoNation here with us today, and a big thanks to the fans for making this such a great event.”
Now, Hunter-Reay hopes to put this bad luck behind him and make a run at a season championship.