IZOD IndyCar Series: MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225
Topics: MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225
August 14, 2011
LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE
THE MODERATOR: Race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay is joining us. This is his first win in 2011, fifth IZod series win in his career. It's his third podium finish in the last four races.
Ryan, this is your fifth win in your career, but has this been the craziest win in your career?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Certainly the strangest, I think, yeah. We had a great lead going, almost a straightaway lead when it started raining. We wished maybe the rain would stop and we could go back to green because we had done two restarts prior to that then and got those guys by almost a straightaway.
I'm not really sure why they're complaining that much about it, when I think we should have just never had a restart. It was still raining, unfortunately. The guys in Race Control I'm sure were desperate to get it green for not only the fans at home but for the fans here.
They certainly deserved a green finish. But when it's raining, you can't race on ovals, unfortunately.
It was tough. I really didn't know what was going on. And as I hit the gas and wheels were spinning, I heard, in my ears, "They're wrecking behind you. They're wrecking behind you. Caution." Before I even got to the start/finish line.
So very interesting set of circumstances there.
THE MODERATOR: We should mention Ryan Hunter-Reay is the seventh different race winner in the IZod IndyCar series in 2011 and the third for the Andretti Auto Sports team. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. You said it was a strange day. Did it seem that way from the get-go when they had to move up the start and you guys were racing against the weather, and were you concerned that it would just be a rate to 113?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, after three beautiful days here, you know, absolutely gorgeous days, we knew the weather was coming today. And they moved the start up. And we figured that we were going to probably race to halfway.
So we just had our heads down to try to get as much of a gap as we could to that halfway point. But short track racing tends to be a little crazier than most.
Drivers get heated. Things happen because you're in close quarters. And unfortunate to see Dario and Takuma Sato get together, I didn't expect that.
But sometimes that happens. Sometimes that's racing, and sometimes it happens on short tracks. So you're car was just so good, so good in traffic and that's how I was able to put the big gaps on Oriol Servia and Scott behind him.
So certainly had a great car. And on that side of it, between Oriol, Scott and I, I absolutely feel like we deserved that win. So it was really good. I just wish it went to green at the end. I wish I didn't have to be explaining what race control was thinking when they were restarting the race. But, hey.
Q. You've had quite the up-down very strange year. Indy was obviously strange circumstances and then come in here strange circumstances for this one. Do you just want things to calm down a little bit?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Absolutely. But, hey, I'm in here talking to you about a win, right? That's a good thing. I'm not complaining. I could be talking to you like those guys on the restart that, when it was wet, that crashed. You know? It's a really good thing we didn't make it down to turn 1 because everybody would have crashed.
But, yeah, I would definitely like things to be a little bit more straightforward, especially with a win. When you have a good car, and you work really hard at it, and then you put those gaps -- you pull out a lead and you just want to go head to head with the guys because there's a great bunch of drivers in the series.
And the competition is as tight as it's ever been. When you win, you want to win heads up.
Q. Certainly not taking anything away from your win but I know there's been times in the last couple of years where officiating has come down on the wrong side of you. All that went on today, do you feel that in a way, though, that kind of tarnishes a little bit what your accomplishment was?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, because of the rain and everything?
Q. The rain --
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Or because Oriol Servia led for 20 feet, according to him?
Q. All that, just the fact that we're spending more time talking about officiating --
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, Race Control decided that they should have called a start. They went -- unfortunately, the biggest problem with that is that we crashed a couple of cars, right? I'm lucky I wasn't one of them. But I couldn't even put the power down in second or third gear, it was that wet.
Yeah, it's unfortunate that we're sitting here explaining that. But it rained on an oval. We were five laps from the end. And I don't know. It's like -- I don't know why when it's wet that Oriol Servia, he led for 20 feet or something like that. The rule in IndyCar, just so you know on starts and restarts, the leader has to reach the start/finish line first. That's a rule. There's another rule, too. The guy behind the leader can't come out of line behind the leader until he gets to the start/finish line. So both those things happened.
There's a lot of rules stuff going in there. All I know is we won, and I'm happy about it.
Q. What were you thinking during, when they stopped you guys? Did you think, oh, are they going to make us do this again?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: When we had that comfortable lead and it went yellow I was like: Oh, come on, please just let us race. But I didn't know what was going to go on.
When they go red with five laps to go, they've got a pretty strong intention of probably going green again. Because we're five laps from the end. It's pretty easy to parade for a couple of more and go checkered. I would have loved to have gone back racing if it was dry. But we can't race the race on an oval in rain, unfortunately.
So it was definitely a roller coaster there. And I was pretty angry that we were going green when it was still rain. You could see it on the visor, it was pooling down. I was warming up the tire, almost losing the car just warming up the tires.
I'm glad we didn't make it to turn 1. I think until that point it was probably a pretty good show. The racing with the car was so difficult with the traffic, you had to time it and it was a lot of fun. This track is a lot of fun. If I had it my way we'll be coming back here for many years to come. Hopefully that's the case.
Q. You won in Milwaukee a few years ago. To add Loudon to your win list, is there anything with these short ovals that suits your driving style?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's more like a -- you know, you've got to wheel it, you really have to lift. You have to really, really pedal the car, and you've got to work it constantly. You know, I don't know if it's because of the weight rule we have in IndyCar or what, but on the super speedways where you hold it wide open up the whole time, I don't know, I just haven't been at the front at the end of the race.
I really enjoy the short ovals. And, yeah, I think it's because for that reason; it's more like a road course, even though it's not. It really is.
It's tough. It's tough to get it right. That's why all the drivers really respect this place. If you ask anybody here, they'll say this is one of the toughest ovals they've ever been on in their life.
Q. When you saw Dario was out of the race --
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: The strongest car, the strongest car of the weekend just went out of the race. That's what happens in racing sometimes. I was ten laps from the end at Long Beach and broke a gear box. Ran second. We thought we could win. It happens sometimes.
You want to beat Dario straight up. That's for sure. The guy's a champion. And he's a great race car driver. And he's great for our sport, and you want to beat him heads up. But that didn't happen today.
With Takuma -- what happened there? Who is at fault for that?
Q. Takuma said on television he had dust or debris in his eye and he drifted over too far. And he went in the garage and apologized after the race.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Really?
Q. You said you like short ovals. Your car was great. Is there any other speedway in the area that you can compare the New Hampshire Speedway with?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Just Milwaukee. Really Milwaukee and New Hampshire are very alike. But New Hampshire, this place, there's a very particular line you have to be on and to get the lap time out of it. And if you're a foot high or a foot low of it you might not get that perfect lap in.
So it's very, very tricky. And as the tires fall off, as the fuel runs out, it's extremely tricky to get it right.
Q. I don't know if you're aware of it or not, but Will Power gave Race Control a double middle finger salute. What are your thoughts on that?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Was he hot?
Q. Extremely. Monumental melt-down.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Really? I could see Will when he's mad, I could see that being pretty exciting. I was mad that we were going green. They're like one lap to go, we're going green. I was like, what, you're kidding me, right? Because it was raining.
And unfortunately we wrecked some expensive race cars because of that. Bad call. I think they know they should never have gone green.
Interesting last little bit of the race, huh? Amazing how a great race unravels like that.
Q. How much restraint did you have to use to keep from doing what Will did?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah. That was close.
Q. You remarked earlier this week about how you came here with your dad and you watched that race I believe in '95 and you left here not knowing whether you'd be back here and here you are as a driver. Now as a winner. Granted the circumstances being what they are, you still won this race. You'll be recognized as such. And to what extent do you kind of reflect on that and maybe does it stir any emotions for you?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, IndyCar racing was what I always wanted to do. That's something I always looked up to. The drivers, when I came here to watch them, they were heros to me. And the cars were bigger than life. And now here I am sitting driving them.
I'm very thankful for the life that I live and for the fact that I can do what I love to do as a way of living. I mean -- I'm absolutely thankful for that every day.
Q. To me, this controversy is actually going to make this win bigger. Does that ever enter into your mind? I mean, yeah, it would have been nice to have coasted the last ten laps under yellow, let it rain, got the checkered flag. Might be two minutes on the news. Now they're going to talk about this.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: You're right. That's the good side of it. But at the same time we never should have gone green. And I got those guys by a straightaway the last two restarts before that. So I'm not really sure -- grasping for straws a little bit on that part. The issue is what was race control thinking when they went green in the first place.
I don't feel like I have to validate that we won it. I feel the issue with Dario and Sato getting it together is a bigger story line than Oriol and Servia in the rain on an oval leading 20 feet, or so he thinks. I don't think that's an issue.
Q. What was Michael's exact words to you when you got to your pit after the race?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: After the race?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Great job, you deserved it. That was ridiculous that they even thought about going green. That was about it. No, he doesn't talk to me on the radio because he's on the radio -- he's on Marco's car.
But after the race, that's basically what he said.
Q. Last year the team was pretty much aligned. Andretti Auto Sport was struggling. Now three different drivers, three of the four have won races. Just talk about how that's a pretty dramatic turnaround for the team?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It is absolutely. The team's doing a great job. We just need to work on consistency. Being even across the top.
Showing up, contending for race wins every weekend. And I think we can get there. Especially with the new car next year, I think we can absolutely do that.
So it's a lot of fun within the team. I love working with those guys. We have great chemistry. And hopefully we'll be working together for many years to come. I think there's some potential there, like you're saying, that we need as a group to take advantage of and make sure we do a good job with consistency.
Q. You got introduced to one of our traditions there on Victory Lane, the big lobster, what did you think of that thing?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It caught me off guard, the thing is looking at me as I'm holding it. Hopefully they put him back in the water or something, I don't know. But he was huge. I didn't know they got that big. No idea.
In Florida, I'm a scuba diver, so we go for the spiny lobster down there, those things are just so small compared to this huge -- his claws were as big as my hand. Huge, huge lobster. That was pretty cool. That's what it's about up here, Maine lobster. The guys wanted to eat him. I'm sure we can arrange that.
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