19 April 2010
Hunter-Reay wins Long Beach Grand Prix
Ryan Hunter-Reay ended similar win droughts for himself, Andretti Autosport and America by triumphing on the streets of Long Beach.
Ryan Hunter-Reay prevailed in a breakneck Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, holding off Justin Wilson to give Andretti Autosport its first victory since 2008.
Hunter-Reay, the newest member of the Andretti Autosport quartet, received a bear hug from CEO Michael Andretti in Victory Circle after succeeding in a race slowed by a lone full-course caution - tying an IndyCar Series road/street course record - and beating Wilson to the line by 5.6031secs to claim Andretti's first win as a team since Tony Kanaan's at Richmond nearly two years ago.
"It was the most fun I had in a race car because it was handling so well," said Hunter-Reay, who is the first American to win at Long Beach since Andretti himself in 2002, "My mom is out there today - she passed along recently and this race is for her. Over the last couple of laps, I said 'this is for you, Mom'."
Hunter-Reay also became the first American driver to win an IndyCar Series race since he last won, at Watkins Glen in July 2008, while the victory was the first for the Andretti team since it was renamed following a winter ownership shuffle, ending a drought of 28 consecutive races without a win.
"I love this place," Andretti commented, "It's where I got my first win as a driver, in 1986, and now its where I got my first win as a sole owner."
Having topped Friday's practice session on the iconic street course, Hunter-Reay qualified second to points leader Will Power in Saturday's Firestone Fast Six, but was perfectly placed to take advantage of an uncharacteristic blip for the Team Penske driver, whose car appeared to lose momentum exiting the hairpin.
"Man, that was awesome," Hunter-Reay admitted, "The car was so much fun to drive - it was some of the most fun I've had in a race car because it was handling so well. I was in a great zone and we were the fastest car out there today. We deserved it."
Power eventually finished third in the 85-lap race and, despite missing out on a possible third win in four races, heads to the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway next month having extended his lead to 42 points over Penske team-mate Helio Castroneves. Hunter-Reay is now third overall, with Wilson fourth as a result of their Long Beach performances.
Power has finished fourth or better in each race this season, having won in Sao Paulo and St Petersburg, but had no answer to either the problem that afflicted him in the early part of round four or to a charging Justin Wilson later on, ending a streak that had seen a Team Penske car finish first or second on street or road courses since Hunter-Reay won at Watkins Glen two seasons ago.
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