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Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - Q&A

We're getting more work done early in the season than last year. Last year we started going on our hot streak much later in the season. So hopefully this is a sign of things to come. Hope so.

Ryan, you were cruising along in the lead seemingly pulling away at any time you wanted. It seemed in a short period of time you went from first to third. Can you describe the actions that took place that got you down there, what you did to get back to the front?

Ryan Hunter-Reay:
It was all about tyre strategy. At some point you had to get on the standard Firestones. You knew you were going to go backwards at that point.

We did it in our middle stint, our second stint. I cruised to a big lead in the opening stint. Right when I got on the blacks, Helio on new reds started closing on me, just like I did on him in the last stint. Will did a fabulous job keeping me behind him. I'm not sure because I had a couple good runs on him. It was hard racing. I didn't want to take any risks this early in the season. I knew I had a great car, so I had to bring it home.

Luckily though, our tyre strategy I think was the best one, which is what Dixon was on. We were able to overcome Helio there in that last stint because he was on blacks to finish, the standard tires.

How close did Dixon seem in your rear view mirror the last 10 laps?

Ryan Hunter-Reay:
He stayed really close. Not many guys you don't want in your mirror, but that's one of them you really don't want in your mirror. He's a veteran that doesn't make many mistakes. He's won championships, the Indy 500. He's the best. You know he's going to be flawless, so you have to hit every little mark you can just to make sure that you're not making a mistake at that crucial moment. Had I made one mistake, he would have been by.

So, yeah, it was pressure-packed.

Have you seen the Brazilian doughnut on the right side pod of the car?

Ryan Hunter-Reay:
I didn't see it. Brazilian doughnut?

Helio's wheel mark.

Ryan Hunter-Reay:
I got it now. Yeah, Brazilian doughnut on the side of the car. We were just racing hard, got on the inside, couldn't slow the car down. I think he saw me coming. He was turning down, saw me coming. But he probably figured I'd be turning for that left-hander, too. I couldn't slow the car down.

Luckily we made contact and both of us continued on, continued to race hard with no issues.

But that could have been the end of the road.

Ryan Hunter-Reay:
Yeah, you're right. That could have been the end of the road for me, broken suspension. I'm sure we bent the tow a little bit on our car because it was lighter going to the left, the handling was. Yeah, glad we both got out of that one. That was a close call.

As the leader, all that action was going on behind you, were you aware of it? Did you have any idea of what to expect going into it?

Ryan Hunter-Reay:
I knew the start is always hairy because you can end up winning side-by-side, two-by-two, through turn one, two and three, which sets up a pretty interesting situation going into turn five. I just wanted to get a jump-start. Every time I did, I got a good jump on the rest of the field.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Start of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park (Photo Credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
The start of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports park - April 2013. (Photo Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates after winning the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports park - April 2013. (Photo Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Detroit IndyCar Andretti RHR
Takuma Sato Detroit IndyCar
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Takuma Sato 2017 Indy 500
Ryan Hunter-Reay Indy 500 practice 2017
Fernando Alonso Indy 500 practice 2
Johnny Rutherford, McLaren-Honda-Andretti [Credit: McLaren Racing]
Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Honda-Andretti, [Credit: McLaren]
Fernando Alonso, IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park,
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Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Carlos Munoz celebrates his first IndyCar pole at Texas Motor Speedway
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport [credit: Walter Kuhn]
Marco Andretti - Andretti Autosport [credit: Chris Owens]

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