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May 27, 2014 - 07:18 AM
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One for the Ages: Hunter Reay is an Indy 500 Champion
Posted by: BGerhart on May 27, 2014 - 07:17 AM
Feature Articles
One for the Ages: Hunter Reay is an Indy 500 Champion



One for the Ages: Hunter Reay is an Indy 500 Champion

One for the Ages: Hunter Reay is an Indy 500 Champion
Credit: PaddockTalk / Paul Hurley



By Brad Gerhart
American Dream.

American Boy.

Yes, on Sunday, at racing’s most famous stage, Dallas native Ryan Hunter-Reay completed his childhood dreams as he won the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in dramatic fashion.

Hunter-Reay battled it on in the ladder stages of the race with three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who nearly caught Hunter-Reay on the back straightaway before the checkered flag waved on the second closest race finish, 0.0600 seconds in the 98th running of the race.

 

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Castroneves sat in the cockpit of his No.3 Penzoil Honda with his hands over his head, knowing he was that close to history, yet again. However, in Hunter-Reay’s pit nothing but pure joy and excitement ran through every team member of Andretti Autosport, knowing their guy pulled off the biggest race win of his career.
For team owner Michael Andretti, it’s been 49 years since his father, Mario won his only Indy 500 and Marco (Michael’s son) had a wonderful race and a respectable third place finish. “As a dad, you want him to be up here. I can't lie,” said a very honest Andretti. “It would have been so special. But it's special having Ryan here. When it's your kid, it's a different thing. As an owner, I can't be happier with what we had. Marco gave it a heck of a shot. Unfortunately his car just wasn't quick enough there in the end.”

Andretti Autosport had two cars on the podium (Hunter-Reay and Andretti) followed by last year’s Indy 500 rookie of the year Carlos Munoz in fourth, NASCAR’s (and this year’s Indy 500 rookie of the year) Kurt Busch. Outside pole sitter James Hinchcliffe, ran at the front of the pack until he got caught up in contact between Towsend Bell and pole sitter Ed Carpenter on a lap 175 restart.

Although Castroneves surely wanted to join the ranks of Al Unser Sr. A.J. foyt and Rick Mears as the only four-time winners of the Indy 500, he also became quite respectful of the moment and that it truly belonged to Hunter-Reay. “Congrats to Andretti Autosport. Ryan Hunter-Reay, great race. He did everything he could. I did everything I could obviously to try to stop. Definitely unbelievable,” said Castroneves during his post-race press conference. “We dodged, avoided a few issues out there, incidents, were able to put ourselves in a great position to win. Unfortunately, as I said, it wasn't our day. It was great to see an American driver winning.”

Yes, of course, the crowd loved it when Hunter-Reay became the first American since 1998 when Eddie Cheever Jr. to win the covalent Indy 500, but he’s well aware of the diverse, well represented nationalities of the world that the IndyCar series is all about. ”This is an international sport, open-wheel. We do battle on every different type of discipline, short ovals, street courses, the only series in the world like that,” Hunter-Reay said. “The Verizon IndyCar Series is a true drivers championship. That's what I love most about it. Winning this one here is definitely a game changer.”

The diversity sure will be present this weekend when the series switches to a Detroit doubleheader around the beautiful Belle Isle.



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