HUNTER-REAY PRODUCES EMOTIONAL VICTORY AT LONG BEACH LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2010) - Ryan Hunter-Reay, the newest member of the Andretti Autosport quartet, received a bear hug from the CEO in Victory Circle. That meant a lot coming from a...
HUNTER-REAY PRODUCES EMOTIONAL VICTORY AT LONG BEACH
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 18, 2010) - Ryan Hunter-Reay, the newest member of the Andretti Autosport quartet, received a bear hug from the CEO in Victory Circle. That meant a lot coming from a racing champion - Michael Andretti.
Hunter-Reay prevailed in the breakneck Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - a race slowed by a lone full-course caution (tying an IZOD IndyCar Series road/street course record) - holding off Justin Wilson by 5.6031 seconds to give Andretti Autosport its first victory since 2008 at Richmond (Tony Kanaan).
"It was the most fun I had in a race car because it was handling so well," said Hunter-Reay, who is the first American to win at Long Beach since Andretti in 2002. "My mom is out there today. She passed along recently and this race is for her. Over the last couple of laps I said 'This is for you, Mom.'"
Said Andretti: "I love this place. It's where I got my first win as a driver (1986) and where I got my first win as a sole owner."
Hunter-Reay became the first American driver to win an IZOD IndyCar Series race since he won in July 2008 at Watkins Glen, which was his first career victory.
Will Power, the championship points leader and pole sitter, finished third in the 85-lap race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn circuit. He heads to the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway on May 1 having extended his lead to 42 points over teammate Helio Castroneves (130). Hunter-Reay is third (129) and Wilson is fourth (125).
TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH POST-RACE NOTES:
* This is the second career IZOD IndyCar Series victory for Ryan Hunter-Reay. His first victory came in 2008 at Watkins Glen. Hunter-Reay had made 27 consecutive starts without a victory before today.
* This is the first IZOD IndyCar Series victory for Andretti Autosport since Tony Kanaan won in 2008 at Richmond. The team was named Andretti Green Racing at that time. The victory ended a drought of 28 consecutive races without a victory.
* This was the first victory for an American driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series since Ryan Hunter-Reay won in 2008 at Watkins Glen. Hunter-Reay is a native of Boca Raton, Fla., who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and also lived in Dana Point, Calif., before recently moving to Fort Lauderdale.
* The last American driver to win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach before Ryan Hunter-Reay today was Michael Andretti in 2002. Andretti owns Andretti Autosport, which fields Hunter-Reay's car.
* This is Ryan Hunter-Reay's second top-three finish of the season. He finished second at Sao Paulo.
* Justin Wilson finished second, tying his season best set at St. Petersburg.
* The second-place finishes by Justin Wilson this season at St. Petersburg are the best for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series since team co-owner Robbie Buhl won in 2000 at Walt Disney World Speedway.
* Will Power has finished fourth or better in all four IZOD IndyCar Series races this season. He won at Sao Paulo and St. Petersburg, was third today and fourth at Barber.
* This is the first time that a Team Penske car has not finished first or second at an IZOD IndyCar Series street/road course event since Watkins Glen in 2008, where Ryan Briscoe finished 12th and Helio Castroneves 16th. Penske had put at least one driver in the top two in the last 14 street/road course races since Watkins Glen 2008.
* Tony Kanaan finished a season-best fifth. His previous best was eighth last weekend at Barber.
* Mario Moraes finished a season-best sixth. His previous best was 13th last weekend at Barber.
* There were 17 cars on the lead lap at the end of this event, a season best. The previous best was 15 at St. Petersburg. The first four races of this season have been contested on street/road courses.
* Four teams were represented in the top five finishers today: Andretti Autosport (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Justin Wilson), Team Penske (Will Power) and Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon).
* Four teams are represented in the top five in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings after this event: Team Penske (Will Power, Helio Castroneves), Andretti Autosport (Ryan Hunter-Reay), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Justin Wilson) and Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti).
* Will Power reported after the race that his car was stuck in first gear when he lost the lead to Ryan Hunter-Reay on Lap 18. He did not accidentally press the pit-lane speed limiter button on his steering wheel.
TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH POST-RACE QUOTES:
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 37 Team IZOD, winner): "Man, that was awesome. The car was so much fun to drive. That was some of the most fun I've had in a race car because it was handling so well. My mom was out there with me today. She just passed away recently. This race is for her. I was in a great zone. It was on the last couple of alps where I said (to myself), 'Thanks for being with me today, Mom.' We were the fastest car out there today. We deserved it. This is like a home race for me."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing, 22nd): (What did you say to Mario Romancini?): "I just said, 'What are you thinking?' He said: 'I'm sorry. I missed my braking mark a little.' It's been a disappointing end to a disappointing weekend. We had problems with our drink bottle and our radio. It's been a tough day. To end it that way is just incredibly frustrating."
(About struggles at the last three races): "We made a lot of changes, and nothing has happened. I think we figured out what it is."
(About his schedule after this event): "I've been working really hard on a couple of things, but unfortunately we had a curve ball thrown at us a couple of weeks ago. I'm working hard to get back, hopefully at Kansas, but it's looking more like Indy."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Team Z-Line Designs/DRR, second): "I am really disappointed. Alex was a lap down and he nearly took Ryan (Hunter-Reay) out a couple of times. Once Ryan got past, it got him off line and slowed him up. I dove down the inside of Turn 8, and I braked pretty late. I just got the door slammed in my face. Even if you aren't going to give way to the leaders, you need to leave room at the apex to back out. Nothing you can do about it. We had to come in and change the front wing and we were just in mad fuel saving mode after that. It's just a shame that it happened. We had a great day. The Z-Line Designs car was fantastic. To have a front wing change and to come back in finish second is an amazing day."
ALEX LLOYD (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America, 19th): "I only found out what happened a few minutes ago. I just thought I had a flat tire. I didn't feel any contact. I was running my race. I wasn't going to make it hard for those guys. I had an issue with (Takuma) Sato that put us in that position where we were about to get lapped. When Ryan (Hunter-Reay) got close enough and got a run, I let him by. At the same time, we're trying to stay on the lead lap. We just can't make it easy and back out. Ryan had just got by and at the next corner, Justin must have tried to get down the inside and his front wing hit my right rear tire. That's nowhere near being alongside. I can't run around the outside because of the marbles. If he had just waited a corner and got a good run, I wouldn't have challenged it. He was just impatient and it ended up hurting both of us. Not that our race was going as great as his, but it certainly cost us three or four positions."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team, 21st): "We just had a tough day today, and it's just a shame for the team. We had contact on the first lap with Marco Andretti in the hairpin, but we recovered and stayed up front, running with the leaders. Unfortunately on our first stop, we had an issue with our refueling. I think the butterfly was stuck, and we didn't get enough fuel into the car. From that point on, we realized we were in trouble. We had to make a second stop that we hoped we wouldn't have to make, and then when we came in on the last yellow to get fuel and they put us in the back of the pack. On the restart, I was trying to make my way up, and I got tangled up with someone and it damaged the front suspension. The team is doing well, though, and we have the speed in qualifying. So this little glitch was unfortunate today, and we're going to try and fix it and make sure we don't put ourselves in a trouble situation again."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing, 11th): "I thought it was a fair result for ABC Supply and A.J. Foyt Racing. As competitive as it is and having an almost top-10, except we got unlucky on the yellow. But it was a fair race; nobody dropped out and it was green all the way, so there was nothing artificial about it. We've finished all the races this year, so now we can go on to our oval sector of the series, which should be better for us."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, ninth): "I think it was a very good race for the National Guard/Panther Racing team. We had a little bit of a fuel collection problem, which made us have to save fuel for the major race, and that is difficult. But the car was really very, very good. I was able to run good lap times saving fuel and enjoyed the race. I would probably say that the position we finished doesn't reflect how good the car was, and sometimes you have those races. But this was a good race for us."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, eighth): "The car was pretty good today. It was difficult to pass. We missed it a bit on our strategy today. A yellow flag would have helped our situation, but as it turned out, we lost a few spots in the pits. We had a car that was better than eighth place, but we scored some points and we'll continue working hard to improve."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, seventh): "It was an interesting race. It was very unusual in that there were so few yellow flags. Everybody was behaving out there. We definitely had a car that was better than seventh place. Unfortunately, we lost a few positions during our second stint. The good news is we are still second in the championship points. We need to keep pushing heading into Kansas at our first oval race."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic, 13th): "I struggled with the brakes at the beginning of the race in Turns 1 and 9, so it was hard to overtake. Then we switched to black primary tires for the second stint and the pace wasn't that bad, but it was still very hard to overtake other cars. The Formula Dream/Panasonic car had the speed, but we just couldn't make it past to overtake."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 2 HP Luczo Dragon, 20th): "It's really a shame that we struggled in qualifying because we had a very competitive car today, especially in the end. The track really came to us, and we were running with the leaders. When you start in the back here, you have to take risks because it's just so difficult to pass. Unfortunately our strategy didn't work. We were expecting at least one more yellow, but that's how it goes sometimes. We just have to analyze and understand where we need to improve and go to the next one."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Team owner, Andretti Autosport, owner of today's winning car, two-time winner of Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach): "I just love this place. It's where I got my first win as a driver (in 1986), and now I've got my first win as a sole team owner (here)."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 12th): "Disastrous weekend for us. Not what we expected at all. We got as high as 10th, but we struggled all day in the Target car. We had some troubles getting around Alex Lloyd there at the end for some reason."
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA-Jet Aviation-KVRT, 15th): "It was a straightforward race, so we couldn't do much as far as strategy. It's a shame because the car was balanced all through the race, but we just lacked a chunk of grip everywhere around the circuit. We will just have to keep working hard, and I am confident that we will improve. But right now the most important thing is to get ready for the oval in Kansas."
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 36 Conquest Racing RACB, 24th): "It was a difficult race starting from the back. I was blocked at the beginning behind Mario (Romancini). We struggled a bit on the red tires, and we had to pit quite early because of that. We changed to blacks and the pace on those was quite good, but I was blocked behind (Alex) Lloyd and that's when we encountered the problem with the front suspension so we had to stop there."
MARIO ROMANCINI (No. 34 Conquest Racing, 23rd): "Of course, I'm very disappointed. Our strategy was working pretty well, and we were having a great race. What happened today was a race accident, which sometimes happens. My crew did a great job, and I want to thank them for that. Now we go to the ovals, where we will hopefully be more lucky."
MARIO MORAES (No. 32 KV Racing Technology, sixth): "Since the start of the weekend, Iain (Watt, Moraes' engineer) and I worked well together. It is just Iain's second race with the team. Qualifying was disappointing. I thought we had a better car than 15th. In the race, I got a good start and tried to save fuel. It is very hard to save fuel on this circuit. We were able to use the tires well, and the car handled very good throughout the race. I am very happy for our KV team. Iain and I are learning each other better with every race. I am feeling more comfortable with him now. I am gaining more confidence with my driving, too. I was able to make a move on Helio (Castroneves) on the restart in Turn 1. The car just felt good all day. Now we move to the four oval races, and we need to work on that setup in the test this week at Kansas."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Lotus-KV Racing Technology, 18th): "It was a tough weekend. After qualifying Saturday, we made a number of changes to the car for this morning's warm-up, and it was a positive move. The race started solidly. We saved our tires and fuel to stretch our first stint. It was all setting up nicely, but in the second stint, Alex Lloyd came out of the pits on cold tires. He couldn't stop and struck my car under braking, causing me to spin. That really ended my race because there was no full-course caution until the end. In all, it was a very disappointing and tough race, but it was another good learning experience for me. Next we race in Kansas, and my first oval test will be there this coming Friday. I am very excited to start my oval adventure."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth): "It was a tough day, and I think we missed some gears a bit. Our first gear was too long, and it was hard to get out of it. Our sixth gear was too short. We had plenty of good speed, but I think there at the end we just couldn't get close to Will, and whoever was in front of each person was going to pull away. That was kind of the end of it for us, and we decided just to cruise around in fourth gear."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven, fifth): "I am happy for Ryan, and I think he deserves this win. He was quick all weekend. We did all we could, but we lost a couple of positions on our pit stop. It was a hard race and seemed to be very physically demanding. I am happy for the Andretti Autosport team, and I feel like when one teammate wins, it is a victory for all of us. We are on the right track, and I am looking forward to heading into the ovals."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, third): "Once Justin passed me, I tried for a couple of laps, but there was no point in putting the car in the wall. The Verizon Wireless car is still leading in points, and the team has a goal of winning the championship, so we are still in line for that. Overall it was a good day, but on one lap I got stuck in first gear. I have no idea why that happened, and I hope it doesn't do that again because I slowed down. I was able to get out of it and speed back up, but it hurt my placement. It is great to be on the podium again this weekend, and I am very happy with the car and the team."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, 10th): "It went well today. We just tried to save a lot of fuel by doing a lap more than everybody ahead of us and make up positions that way. It's frustrating, though, because it doesn't feel like you're pushing at all because you're just saving fuel. I think the only time I pushed was during the last stint. But the guys worked out a good strategy, and we got a top-10 finish and good points for the championship in the end."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com, 16th): "Today's race was definitely challenging, and the result doesn't show how hard the GoDaddy crew worked. It's been a frustrating weekend all around for the #7 car. But I'm so happy that my teammate Ryan won. His win is great for the #37 guys and Andretti Autosport as a whole."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom Energy, 14th): "Today was just one of those days when things don't go your way. Track position was so important, and we just kept giving it away. We bent the front wing twice and had to change the whole front nose, so that set us back. We just weren't able to get back where we needed to be. It was a disappointing finish for the Venom car but a great day for team. Ryan drove a great race and had a strong car. I'm really happy to see Andretti Autosport in Victory Lane."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM, 17th): "It was nice to be back on a track that I know. It's really different in Indy cars compared to Atlantics. But the race was good. I made a bit of a mistake on the restart when I got a lot of wheelspin and got passed. But I learned a lot, and we'll see how the next one goes."
TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH NOTEBOOK:
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach grand marshal Mark Wahlberg talked about his Race Day experience today. Wahlberg is an Academy Award-and Emmy Award-nominated producer/actor.
MARK WAHLBERG: "This is awesome. I've got my 4-year-old son out here. This is our first race together. The intensity level, the excitement is amazing." (Who are you rooting for?): "Gotta go for Team IZOD, my boy Hunter-Reay."
National Hockey League legend Teemu Selanne is a guest in the pits today of the FAZZT Race Team and IZOD IndyCar Series driver Alex Tagliani. Selanne, known as "The Finnish Flash," plays right wing for the Anaheim Ducks. He has scored 606 regular-season goals during his illustrious career.
TEEMU SELANNE: "This was just awesome. I've always been a big race fan and have been to a few open-wheel races in the past. I really love the Long Beach event. The whole package here is perfect with the downtown venue, it's almost like Monaco."
Fifteen-time Grammy Award winner David Foster is a guest of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing today.
NHLR began a partnership with the David Foster Foundation (DFF) before the season-ending IZOD IndyCar Series event in 2009 at Homestead-Miami and will run the DFF slogan, "Be a Donor, Save a Life," on the sidepod of the No. 06 car driven this weekend by Hideki Mutoh to help raise awareness of organ donation.
DAVID FOSTER: "Becoming an organ donor is an important cause to me. What better way for the world to see our 'Be a Donor, Save a Life' message than on the side of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Indy car at the number-one street race in North America. I'm grateful to the team, and I take personal pride in seeing our 'Be a Donor' message on the Indy car in an area where I live and work. This is a tremendous opportunity for the David Foster Foundation, and we're so thankful to have a great partnership with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in sharing this most important message."
Chef Giada De Laurentiis, host of the hit show "Everyday Italian" on Food Network, is a guest of Target Chip Ganassi Racing during the IZOD IndyCar Series race today.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 on Saturday, May 1 at Kansas Speedway. It starts a stretch of four consecutive races on ovals after the season began with four consecutive street/road course races.
The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Firestone Freedom 100 on Friday, May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's the first oval event of the season for the series.