LONG BEACH, Calif – If Ryan Hunter-Reay didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. After two straight fifth place finishes to start the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series off, Hunter-Reay had high hopes for this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Instead, he leaves with a disappointing day.
“For us on the No. 28, it was a complete nightmare of a day,” Hunter-Reay said after the race. “We had a damaged front wing on the start, came in for a wing change, went to the back and made our way up to fifth place. Then, I think (Takuma) Sato hit my right rear with his wing, we got a puncture and had to come in, and we went to the back. We came back through, again, to 11th and then (Sebastien) Bourdais got spun around in the hairpin. I got stuck in that… and, again, to the back. On the last restart, I was just aggressive and put the power down. The back end stepped out and smacked the wall; we broke the left rear suspension. It was a weekend to forget. The potential was there for the DHL Honda and that makes it sting even more. Great job to my crew, they did everything they needed to. We’ll focus on Barber from here.”
See, Hunter-Reay had a car to win this weekend’s 85 Lap race. His No. 28 Honda was arguably the only one who could give his Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi a run for his money. But, bad luck struck from Saturday on.
Hunter-Reay, was out to make up for last year’s race where he had a race winning car but fell out due to an expired engine. This year, it all started in qualifying.
He had a front row caliber race car but was penalized in the second round of qualifying for entering the track off pit road wrong. The infraction, was a blend line violation, one that Hunter-Reay cites is for a race, not for qualifying.
His car was second, second and fourth respectively in practice and one of the ones to beat in qualifying. But, the penalty brought him back down pit road, meaning he had one lap to shine. He’d narrowly miss the Firestone Fast Six and start seventh as a result.
Then, on the opening lap of the race, he got into the back of Scott Dixon in the first corner and have to pit under the opening caution flag to change his damaged front wing. He’d go from fifth to 18th. But, he’d make his way back to the front and was fifth on a late race restart before having a flat tire which caused him to hit pit road again. He’d go from fifth to 19th, this time one-lap down.
That wasn’t all from there. He’d get in another incident, have another flat tire and lose another front wing.
That saw him finish 20th, which saw the bad luck bug bite him three times in a span of 24 hours.