Hunter-Reay looks to a bright future with a successful Atlantic season behind him. Ryan Hunter-Reay drove his ...
Hunter-Reay looks to a bright future with a successful Atlantic season behind him.
Ryan Hunter-Reay drove his #1 Andor Capital Management / Autobytel / Briggs & Stratton / Toyota / Swift to three pole positions and three victories in his rookie season in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Hunter-Reay joined Hylton Motorsports in January from the CART Barber Dodge Pro Series, and intends to compete in Champ Car or F3000 next year.
"Ryan is the best I have ever seen at this level," praises team owner Keith Hylton who's team won the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2001. "Ryan is only going to get better and he made a flawless transition from the Barber Dodge Pro car to the Toyota Atlantic car". Ryan earned the respect of the industry not only by his on track performance but also by his fantastic representation of his sponsors off the track, which has allowed him to solidify those relationships even further.
The 2002 Atlantic season boasted the deepest field since the late 70's when Gilles Villeneuve and Bobby Rahal competed in the series. With returning veterans and graduates of Indy Lights and various national F3 series Hunter-Reay was the least experienced among the front-runners but consistently out qualified and out-paced the veterans and more experienced competitors.
"We dominated at five of the 12 races but only came away with three wins. We started the year as we finished it with some bad luck bookending three DNF's to start and three more DNF's to finish the season. Despite scoring points only for poles or laps lead in the first three races by the three quarter mark of the season we had hauled ourselves up to second in the points, with only four races remaining, but then lady luck parked on my doorstep and we went backwards in the points from there. I've been racing long enough to know you can't control what you can't control but not winning the Championship outright is a big disappointment and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. That said it was a fantastic year, the competition was great, I learned so much and congratulations to Jon Fogarty, it is a title well deserved"
Hunter-Reay set new records at Long Beach, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Cleveland either in qualifying, the race, or both. Hunter-Reay was honored for his accomplishments at the year-end banquet as the 'fastest driver' when he was awarded the WorldCom Fast Pace Award that acknowledges the driver who records the highest number of WorldCom Fast Pace Awards for the fastest race laps during the season. Hunter-Reay was also awarded the BBS Rising Star award by the CART Toyota Atlantic Series. The award acknowledges the Atlantic driver who has performed in a most competitive fashion and is a star of the future.
The 21 year-old American dominated the entire Atlantic field in laps led, with 160 laps, 62 of which were on the road courses and 98 on the ovals. Hunter-Reay led 58 laps more than the series champion Jon Fogarty who finished second in the category, and posted three wins to Fogarty's two. "Ryan is not only a exceptionally gifted racecar driver, but he has the unique ability to determine the cars needs right away. He has a strong technical knowledge of vehicle dynamics and his feedback is very clear and concise, allowing us to maximize the set-up of the new Swift 014.a almost immediately. I cannot imagine a better driver to develop a new car. When we had the set-up dialed in on the car he ran away with the race and when we struggled with set-up he would apply his racecraft and bring the car through the field with a precision and maturity that belies his age" said, multiple Atlantic Title holder, engineer Kyle Brannan.