Ryan Hunter-Reay won for the first time this year at Iowa Speedway, going back-to-back in that race.
Until Saturday night’s Iowa Corn 300, Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Verizon IndyCar Series season had been dismal. It was rapidly becoming his worst racing season since 2009.
Going into this race, he's scored just one top five finish and two other top tens.
He wasn’t able to extract the maximum from his car this season, as he told Motorsport.com on Friday.
“I just haven’t had the car to lean on. I need the car to do certain things in order for me to get the extra three tenths out of it that has been so successful over the past three seasons which has put us in victory lane numerous times every year.”
“We seem to be a few steps behind and every time we show up at a race weekend we have to turn the setup upside down from years past. What’s worked for us in the past is not working now, so we kind of start from scratch.”
Last night’s race changed all of that for Hunter-Reay as he earned his first victory of the season and his third at the Newton oval (2012, 2014, 2015). For Andretti, it is their sixth win at Iowa in as many years.
“When we rolled off for the first session [in] P3, that was the first time all year that I felt, ‘man, this car is actually pretty hooked up,’ and I actually had confidence in it really to put the car where I needed to, same with the second practice session, same with qualifying, it came to me tonight again. It’s relieving to know that when the car’s there, you know I’ll be there as well. It’s a big win for our team because it shows that when [we’re] capable of the performance, we can execute.”
Iowa has fast become one of his favorite tracks, especially given that this was his third win out of the last four years, just one and a half seconds separating him from winning in 2013.
“Man I love this place, with that many wins in such a short amount of time, it’s my favorite race track, this and Indy I guess. This needs to be on the schedule though, the racing here is absolutely phenomenal.”
Win a 'big deal' to RHR
Hunter-Reay admitted that last year’s win paled in comparison to this year’s win.
“The win last year was pretty cool because Michael made a great call. I was pretty skeptical at the time. We blitzed the field at the end of the race, that was a lot of fun.
But this is a big deal, to come in and to be on the slump we've been on, to come in from ninth, work at it, earn the race win, really earn it in the fashion that we did, it's a statement win. It's big for us. It's big for everybody involved in this team.”