Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport - Q&A
16 June 2013
We are pleased to be joined by our race winner Ryan Hunter‑Reay.
Congratulations on a great race and important day with the points. Walk us through today.
It was great to do it again in Milwaukee. What a racetrack. Oldest racetrack in the world, still producing such great racing. Every time I had the opportunity to race here, I feel blessed. Such a challenging place. When you get it right, there's no better feeling in IndyCar than at Milwaukee Mile. Indianapolis definitely is right there with it, but this place is very special.
It was a lot of fun out there today. Really happy to get a win on Father's Day with our six‑month‑old son in Victory Lane. Going to remember that forever, absolutely.
[Is it a big difference having the family with you here in victory lane at Milwaukee?]
Yeah, it feels great. At Barber that was one of the races that Becky and our son didn't come to. I felt bad because we didn't have the pictures of him in Victory Lane.
This is even better. To do it on Father's Day, to do back‑to‑back at Milwaukee, you're only as good as the team you're surrounded by, the car you're in.
I've got a great team around them. I'm so proud of them. Thanks to my team mates for working together. That's a product of what we did today, for sure.
53 laps to go you picked Will Power and Helio Castroneves off on the same lap. Talk about that move because it determined the race for you.
We were setting the pace of the race early. The yellow came out. I'm not sure for what. Maybe it was for Marco. That shuffled us back into the field a bit, which gave some of the guys off strategy, Helio, Takuma, etc., gave them the lead.
A little later in the race, for some reason we missed the balance. We lost our race car, where it was really strong before. We lost it. Luckily in the last stint we got it back again.
To your point, I think we had a really good car in traffic. I was able to choose lanes that I wanted. They seemed to be handcuffed to one lane. That was the difference for me, being able to move around. When I saw what they liked, I switched it up, went the other way, got by them.
Fun on the Firestone tyres today. We were sliding around a lot. It was fun.
[Your team mate EJ Viso also had a strong race at Milwaukee today?]
Yeah, EJ is always very good here. I saw him coming up from behind about halfway through the race. I knew it was going to be tough. I thought it was going to be between him and I at the end. He was very strong. We really seemed to click getting through traffic at the end of the race better than anybody out there.
It was the product of a really great race car. I love this place. I love searching around for grip and finding the different opportunities there. Seemed to change a lot all day long.
And the players, who were the players for the win, you really never had an idea. You had to keep your head down and go 110% the whole time.
[How much is this year a case of being able to get into the groove in order to continue the success of the team?]
Well, in sports, when you get into a momentum, a rhythm, not something you can put a price tag on or finger on, it just happens. It kind of saturates the team with this feeling that, Hey, we can get it done. If we perform to our best, to our potential, we can absolutely win races.
That carried over week in, week out. We were able to win four more races than anybody else last year. It all started here last year. Great place to start. Andretti has great cars. You put the two together, hopefully it comes out the way we want.
I don't know, man, I'm just fighting every week. I'm fighting every week. I love the atmosphere I'm in, the team I'm in. I love IndyCar racing. I'm pushing as hard as I can. Hopefully I'm here racing for many years to come. If that's the case, I'll give it 110% like I did today to make sure it happens.
Michael, AJ, those guys, I'm not in their league.
[What's the Milwaukee Mile like to race on? After back-to-back wins it certainly seems to be a circuit that suits you?]
Well, it's an oval. Every driver, you ask them, they respect this oval the most. It's an oval that drives more like a road course. You have to really wheel the car the entire time. That's because the banking is so flat. You don't get the help from the banking.
You're constantly trying to fight understeer, you're fighting loose. It's all over the place.
To get it right, these cars, especially when you want front grip, all of a sudden it goes loose, then you're going backwards again. It's hard to get it right, and it's because it's so flat around here.
What I love about it most is that it opens up to two lanes, a lane and a half, to create some great racing. Looked like it was pretty fun out there. Everybody was dicing it up.
[Is is a difficult race to prepare for?]
Practice seems very short compared to the whole race weekend. Seems like it was 30 minutes, an hour session, then a qualifying race. It is a bit of guesswork. You have years past to go on. That's where you make your educated guesses on what you need for the race. It's tough to get it right. If you do go on the loose side, it could be a very long day for you.
We just went a little bit conservative in the beginning of the race, kept tuning on it, made it better and better. When you have a great team that has been fast in the past, it makes it great.
[How special is it to claim the victory on your first Father's Day since the birth of your son at the start of the year?]
Yeah, you know, he's six months old and has stuff all over the house and can't even pick it up or play with it yet. There's just stuff everywhere.
I'm leaning on my wife to help me sort it out a little bit, get some method to the madness.
But he's a lot of fun. I'm sure we'll have a big spot for it, because that's a special win. Not that many where you get to hold your son on Father's Day weekend in Victory Circle, Victory Lane.
[The #1 DHL car seemed very strong on the long runs?]
That was great for us, yes. Every time the yellow came out, I was cringing. I wanted it to go as long as it could. Once the grip wore off the new tyres, I think we were the best car out there.
I really wanted it to go green longer than it did. Yellows happen. It made for some exciting racing. I really wanted to be in traffic, too. I wanted to be able to come back and catch traffic. That's where I was able to open up gaps, close gaps if I needed to. That was pivotal to our day.
[Michael Andretti is also the promoter of the Milwaukee race for a second time in 2013, and it seems the fans and local crowd have really started to turn out to support it this year?]
Yeah, absolutely. The number one thing that will keep us coming back here for many years to come is filling up these stands. With the racing we have, we definitely need a big push in attendance next year.
I remember this place in the past, back in '04, the attendance levels were getting up there. Then we had this drought came when the event fell off the schedule. That hurts an event. You need it year in, year out. You need that familiarity of a date that people know to come out and see it.
We really need the support. I thank all the fans that came out today. The top part was packed. We need to fill in the bottom section.
It's a fun race. There's not many other series that put on a race like that. Hopefully this event will be around for a long time. I love it.
[Is there a secret to the Andretti Autosport success here, and in 2013 in general after claiming four wins in nine races so far between you and James Hinchcliffe?]
Yeah, well, obviously it's general terms that I have to speak in because we race on so many different types of tracks, it's just not one thing or the other.
It's the engineering staff that's doing a great job developing things in the off‑season. I think it's really ‑ and I talked about it last year a lot ‑ it's the team atmosphere. When you have a good team atmosphere, four cars all pushing together in the same direction, it makes a massive difference. You're getting four times the amount of data in one session. That's a big deal.
Thank you, Ryan. Congratulations. Happy Father's Day!
Transcript courtesy IZOD IndyCar Series. FastScripts by ASAP Sports.