LEEDS, Ala – Ryan Hunter-Reay was frustrated at his start to the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. See, he had two straight fifth place runs to start the year off with and a 20th place finish last weekend in Long Beach. But, every one of those finishes the Andretti Autosport driver thought that he should have finished higher. He said bad luck got in his way in all three races.
At both St. Pete and Phoenix, he thought he had a car to finish on the podium. While he’ll take the top fives, it was a lot that he felt that was left on the table. Then in Long Beach, it all went wrong all weekend. First off, he was penalized for a blend line violation in qualifying that left him outside looking in on the Firestone Fast Six. Then, he got contact and was forced to change his front wing on his No. 28 Honda on the first lap of the race. They’d end up with three incidents overall on the day, including a flat tire.
If he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.
But, leaving the Barber Motorsports Park, all the luck is back on his side. That’s a good thing because everyone wants to head to Indy with momentum.
Hunter-Reay finished second in Monday’s rain delayed Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama for his third top five in four starts in 2018. It was also his fourth top five finish in his last six starts at the Barber Motorsports Park and 39th podium of his INDYCAR career.
“It was a good race, it was tough getting the fuel number and trying to keep the pace up, but it was a lot of fun when it started raining, trying to find the grip again and searching around,” said Hunter-Reay of his race. “I was almost worried that I was going to burn the front (tires) off. We came in early for the wet (tires). I stayed out there as long as I could, but on the slicks, I was a lot quicker and it was that inconsistent snap that you have. When you have one of those (snaps) with the slicks you can absolutely lose it completely, so we thought that was the best time to come in and grab the Firestone wets. It was good from there. I just needed a little bit more time to cut in on (Josef) Newgarden’s lead. Congratulations to Team Penske and (Josef) Newgarden. Great job by the DHL guys this weekend. We rolled off the truck, we weren’t that happy with the car and we kept working on it methodically, chipping into it and everybody just executed it – so a good weekend overall.”
While Monday wasn’t a win, it was a solid outing heading to Indy. He’d up to sixth in the points standings now too.