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Ryan Hunter-Reay Is ‘Re-Energized,’ Looking to Build on Indy 500 Legacy

Ryan Hunter-Reay is back in a race car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a year on the sidelines, but his goal is still the same.

To win the Indianapolis 500.

For a decade, the 42-year-old Floridian was behind the wheel of the Andretti Autosport No. 28, typically carrying the bright yellow colors of DHL, his primary sponsor. It was a successful pairing that saw Hunter-Reay win 13 races, as well as an NTT IndyCar Series championship in 2012, and, of course, the 2014 Indy 500.

That partnership ended after the 2021 season, and Hunter-Reay spent last year mostly on a sabbatical, traveling with his family and looking for his next opportunity.

That came in the form of a one-off effort for May with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the No. 23 Chevy, and after a drama-free week of practice, Hunter-Reay is safely in his 15th Indy 500 after qualifying 18th-fastest, with a four-lap average of 232.133 mph.

“It’s been great,” Hunter-Reay said before practice on Thursday. “We have got a lot done and made good progress. I’m having fun.”

Hunter-Reay enjoyed the year off, but did do a little racing, driving in the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans for the Cadillac Racing DPi team, and six races in the SRX Series, where he finished seventh in points. He also served as a consultant to Juncos Hollinger Racing during the Indy 500.

“I really enjoyed the year, doing other things,” Hunter-Reay said, “I’m coming back really re-energized and focused.”

Hunter-Reay is at the point in his life where he can choose his next step, so there was no hurry to just jump into any situation. He feels he has found a great spot – at least for Indy – with DRR.

The team has been part of the IndyCar paddock since 2000, and with the exception of 2020, has been an Indy-only effort since 2014. They have a reputation of putting together well-prepared cars and have had some success in the Indy 500. Since 2012 DRR has notched four top-10 finishes, including a seventh-place run by Sage Karam in 2021, and a 10th-place result from Santino Ferrucci a year ago.

That’s all well and good, but it wasn’t the only selling point for Hunter-Reay.

“It’s the people here, that’s what it’s about,” Hunter-Reay said. “It starts with Dennis Reinbold, he is so focused on this event, it matters to him, and he does it the right way.

“A lot of people there I’ve worked with in the past with other teams, and I’m really impressed with their work ethic, their attention to detail, and the fact we are all focusing on this one race, and I think that’s an advantage.”

See also
30 Years Later - History Repeating Itself for Rahal Team at Indy 500?

With his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy, Hunter-Reay’s Indy legacy is set in stone…well, silver. But that doesn’t mean he can’t write another couple of chapters, which is what he is looking to do.

“I’ve had a lot of close ones (since 2014) of winning it again, and that’s what keeps you coming back, right?” he reflected. “The potential is there, I’m enjoying working with a new group at DRR, and I’m focused on winning this thing.”

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