A quarter of the way into the IZOD IndyCar Series season, four different teams are represented in the top five of the championship standings, but race four winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, isn't surprised at all.
Hunter-Reay, who became the first American to win in the series since he last took victory, at Watkins Glen in 2008, points out that the field is deep with road racing talent, and is equally broad in oval experience.
"That's what I love about IndyCar," the #37 IZOD entry driver claimed in the wake of his Long Beach win, "There is no series in the world that goes from a road course like we just did to a street course, to an oval. That's what it's about - you have to stay on your toes. The talent that you bring to it has to be diverse, and that's what I enjoy about IndyCar."
After four street/road course events, the attention turns to a four-race set on divergent ovals, beginning next weekend at Kansas Speedway for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300.
"I'm looking forward to getting in some great race cars when I'm turning left," Hunter-Reay admitted, "It's a struggle on ovals when you're not fast but, when you have the car and you have the team behind you, it can be some of most fun racing you do."
Hunter-Reay has had the team behind him throughout this season and, on the 1.968-mile Long Beach street circuit, delivered for Andretti Autosport. It was the team's first victory since Tony Kanaan's prevailed on the Richmond International Raceway bullring in June 2008, and the second consecutive strong showing for the revamped squad, following Marco Andretti's 58 laps in the lead at Barber Motorsports Park. Andretti finished fifth on that occasion, while Kanaan joined Hunter-Reay in the top five in Long Beach.
"Last week, we dominated the race, almost won, and this week dominated and
won," team owner Michael Andretti said, "I was happy that Ryan got us the win and for IZOD being the great supporter and the best series sponsor we could ever want. What they're doing with all the things, this thing is about to explode. I'm so excited about the future of IndyCar racing right now."
Hunter-Reay, who recently moved from California to his home state of Florida and kicked off the season with a runner-up finish in Brazil, said the victory was especially gratifying because of its location.
"This is where I had my first big‑time race in Atlantics, and also my first big‑time race in kart," he said, "I've been telling everybody - not to make Michael feel old, but - that I remember being a kid and watching the TV, watching him win, and I was playing with my cars on the rug."