HUNTER-REAY TASTES VICTORY IN WILD FINISH AT NEW HAMPSHIRE IZOD INDYCAR SERIES EVENT SUNDAY
LOUDON, N.H. (Aug. 14, 2011) - Ryan Hunter-Reay recorded his first IZOD IndyCar Series win of the 2011 season Sunday in a wild finish at the one-mile oval track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car fought off some tough competition and intermittent rain showers to collect Andretti Autosport's third 2011 victory in the MoveThatBlock.com 225 in the series' return to the New Hampshire track after a 13-year absence.
Hunter-Reay's victory was the second straight oval win on the IZOD IndyCar Series for Andretti Autosport. Marco Andretti won at Iowa in June. Teammate Mike Conway won on the streets of Long Beach in April.
Starting fifth in the 27-car field, Hunter-Reay battled with the leaders through the first 75 laps before a yellow flag came out for a steady rain. On the restart on lap 107, leader Dario Franchitti made contact with second-place Takuma Sato and spun on the front straight. In the maylay, Hunter-Reay jumped to the lead and held the advantage for the majority of the 225-lap contest.
With 20 laps remaining the race, rain returned and the yellow flag was flown. Hunter-Reay cruised the oval track slowly in the lead with the field fighting heavier rain drops. In a controversial move, INDYCAR officials made the decision for a restart on lap 216. Hunter-Reay led the field on the slippery conditions but a crash on the front straightaway with several cars made for no start (or aborted start). According to the rules, an aborted restart reverts the field back to the previous lap.
With rain continuing, the car were pulled into the pit lane and halted for a red flag. After several minutes, the IndyCar Series officials called the race official with Hunter-Reay as the victor.
The win was Ryan's fifth in Indy car racing and his second oval win. He dominated the Milwaukee Mile race in 2004 for his first oval win.
Andretti Autosport's Danica Patrick also fought a tough race, running in the top-five but ultimately recording a sixth-place finish in the No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com car.
Both Andretti and Conway retired from the event with separate incidents. Andretti, driving the No. 26 All Natural Snapple Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry, placed 24th, while Conway, in the No. 27 Team @FollowAndretti machine, placed 25th.
The Andretti Autosport organization now prepares for a return to the popular Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on Aug. 26-28 in the Northern California wine country.
MARCO ANDRETTI, #26 TEAM ALL NATURAL SNAPPLE CAR
Retired from the race early, with a 24th place result after contact
"The Snapple car had a bent right rear from the (Mike) Conway incident, trying to miss Conway earlier. I was just trying to bring it home. I was basically a bystander in the middle of the racetrack. I didn't move my line and I think (Tomas) Scheckter came across my front and took me and Tony (Kanaan) out. I had nowhere to go. I would have let them by but I had no idea. But congrats to Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and his crew on their win."
MIKE CONWAY, #27 TEAM @FOLLOWANDRETTI CAR
Recorded a 25th place finish after contact
"I was kind of taking it easy. There were a lot of people moving around out there and I was trying to stay in my spot. The rear got loose and snapped. I tried to recover it, but I couldn't. There was a massive cloud of smoke and it was hard for me to see the other cars. I am very sorry that I ended Graham's (Rahal) race. I feel bad for the team because they worked so hard this weekend."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, #28 TEAM DHL/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA CAR
Secured his first win of the 2011 season, his third podium finish in the last four races
"I knew we had a good car this weekend and in practice we've been making the car better and better. They have done such a good job. We have great chemistry on this team and it's a great result. My car was so good in traffic. The DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop guys deserve this win. This one is for them. I wish that it was different, but we'll take it after the year that we've had."
(On the conditions at the end) "I couldn't even warm the tires it was so wet. I don't think the fans at home understand how wet it was. We have a very small contact patch and the Firestone contact patch is amazing but when there's some rain down, there's nothing there. I couldn't even put the power down in second or third. Wrong move on race control's part. We had such a great car today with the DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop team. I love these short ovals. They are so much fun. It was a strange day. But sometimes racing is strange."
DANICA PATRICK, #7 TEAM GoDaddy.com CAR
Finished the race in sixth place
"I take full responsibility for the last yellow and the mess that it created; I came out of (turn) one and the car just turned on me. I think I was one of many drivers that thought the race shouldn't be going green at that point. It was pretty slippery out there so I was surprised that we were going to chance it. I had a solid car throughout the entire race. I think we had a decent outcome for the GoDaddy.com car and it's great to finish on a good note after a challenging weekend."