Hunter-Reay Looks Forward to Edmonton and Reflects on His Season So Far Q. You just earned the best finish of the year for the ABC Supply Team at Toronto. You've now done that twice this year, with both of the teams you've driven for, but it's...
Hunter-Reay Looks Forward to Edmonton and Reflects on His Season So Far
Q. You just earned the best finish of the year for the ABC Supply Team at Toronto. You've now done that twice this year, with both of the teams you've driven for, but it's been a tough season. Talk about the highs and lows of the last few months.
RHR: Toronto was very important for everyone on the Foyt team considering the horrible luck they have had lately. AJ and I both knew it was a pivotal weekend for us and thankfully we were very competitive all weekend. We advanced through the first round of qualifying and lined up on the grid right next to the Penske cars, but we were never satisfied. The race was tough, such a bumpy track with a big passing zone and those walls seem to have a magnetic attraction to an IndyCar. Half the races we have contested together have ended on the first lap due to another car/driver's mistake, so survival was first and foremost. At times the strategy seemed to really pay off for us, we ran as high as 2nd, but in the end we had to come in for a 3rd stop and that put us outside the top ten. We fought hard and ended the day well inside the top ten in 7th, so we were all pretty relieved and I was happy to bring the team its highest finish of the year, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Q. What's it like to work with AJ Foyt?
RHR: Working with AJ is great. He has won everything there is to win, been there, done it and won it - so when he speaks you listen. I'm just trying to learn everything I can from him, just being a sponge. I really respect the fact that after all these years of racing he still has so much passion for the sport. He calls all the shots, he's on the radio with me, he makes the key decisions, and he even gets his hands dirty on changes between sessions. It's unreal.
Q. Is the Monkey off?
RHR: The monkey may be off our back, but he's still right there staring us in the face. We have lots of work to do and we need to be as consistent as possible by racking up more solid finishes.
Q. This will be your third start at Edmonton, talk about your impressions of the circuit? It is known to be very fast and very bumpy. What do you anticipate?
RHR: I raced Edmonton in '05 and last year with Rahal. It's a fun track, I'm a big fan of airport circuits, they make for great racing and the best view for the fans. It's a unique track, it's pretty much half road course half street circuit and the sweet spot for the set-up is pretty small so we'll be working hard to get it right.
Q. The IndyCar schedule has been hectic, and you've been busy off the track! How's engaged life? Also, you've talked about you mom's battle with cancer--how is she?
RHR: The schedule has been hectic, but I like it. The hardest part is to go through a schedule like this then have all those months off in the off-season. Engaged life is great, the same, if not better than before and that's important. My Mom is doing very well considering what she has to deal with. The chemotherapy is brutal and it's every week, no breaks. The doctors just switched her to a more aggressive chemo, which has been very tough on her. I'm so proud of her, she's fighting so hard.
Q. IZOD is a great partner of yours and of the IndyCar Series. They seem to be maximizing this opportunity with promotions and publicity. What is like to represent such an illustrious brand? Talk about your relationship with IZOD and the events you have appeared at representing them?
RHR: Representing IZOD has been such an amazing experience, I am so thankful to be partnered with them. The level of activation IZOD has already executed and is still committed to - is stunning, and I'm honored to be a part of it. As for advertising it started with a photo shoot at Watkins Glen, which went into a two page ad spread in Sports Illustrated, then the 90 foot tall billboard right in the middle of Times Square, followed by the IZOD commercial everyone sees so much of which was a bit of a reenactment of the Watkins Glen win but shot in Sonoma. Once the season was over we went down to Cabo and shot golf stills on amazing courses (where I had my best round ever of 79). IZOD uses these ads in stores followed by a film shoot of the tip of Cabo racing two America's Cup racing sailboats! Lastly we did another still shoot at Indy this year with some vintage IndyCars as well as some more golf on the Brickyard Crossing course. As for appearances we're doing a lot of cross promotion with Macy's so just about every other race I'm at Macy's in market signing autographs and meeting fans the day before on-track activity.
Q. You've won at Watkins Glen and you scored your first front row start and podium finish as a rookie in Champ Car at Mid-Ohio. You've also won on street circuits (Surfers Paradise) and on the oval at the Milwaukee Mile. Do you have a preference - is there a circuit type that suits your driving style the most?
RHR: The thing I love most about IndyCar is the fact that we are the only series in the world that races all disciplines of racing. We compete on short ovals, super-speedways, Indy, natural terrain road courses, street circuits, airports. It's like no other racing series in the world, it's so unique and when you win a championship in IndyCar it means that much more. As for my personal preference on tracks as far as ovals go I love the two extremes--I love Indy and I love Milwaukee, both you really have to drive hard to get the most out of the car, but you're still only as good as your car. Whereas on road and street circuits the driver can carry the car more and there seems to be a bit more to it. Up through the gears, down through the gears, left, right, brake, throttle, down to 40mph up to 200 all in a lap. But no, no preference, my preference is for every weekend to be a different style track.
Q. You are the only driver in IndyCar who has won under the CART, Champ Car and IndyCar banner. It must be professionally rewarding to compete against the current field of IndyCar drivers, most of whom you have competed against in the past, but now all together on the same grid. How would you rate the current level of competition in IndyCar?
RHR: The fact that I'm the only winner in all three series is pretty cool and I'm proud of that, especially considering the fact that I re-validated the earlier wins with another win after the merger. As for the current competition, in Toronto last weekend, AJ and I were talking about how deep the talent is in the current field. AJ then said "In all my years of racing this is by far the deepest road course talent I have ever seen in IndyCar." That about sums it up and I think he's a pretty good judge of that.