Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the No.28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport, battled through a tough race to finish third at Iowa Speedway, giving RHR his 37th podium finish in his Verizon IndyCar Series career, and second of 2017.
“Yeah, it was busy,” Hunter-Reay said. “But when we showed up here this weekend, like last year, we had a really ill-handling car. Felt like it just always wanted to turn around, get into the wall. Within an hour and a half of the practice time that we had, we made some good changes to it, especially in the warmup. And we made the right changes going into the race. So credit to the engineering team of the 28 car. We definitely got a good setup on it.
“We spent the whole race catching up on front wing. Had too little front wing in it, which is kind of a byproduct of searching around for setups to land on. These cars are so sensitive here. You can dial the car out so easily. You can miss the setup by just a little bit and be way off the pace. I was very thankful, especially after last year where I was a fish out of water at a track that I absolutely love. This was nice to be back in the rhythm and going from 15th to third. Hats off to the 28 DHL crew. They did great stops today, put us where we needed to, and I had fun. Definitely it was nice to finish a race without some other variable interfering.”
Despite not getting a win, the American driver loves coming back to Iowa, a track where he has had so much success at. A win at the track in 2012 helped boost him to the series championship that year.
“I love this place and I know what I need from the car,” Hunter-Reay added. “That’s one thing. I’m very certain what I need from it. I can describe exactly to the engineers what we need, and I know where the target is, and that’s where I need to be.
“And then once we get into a racing situation, if I can have a car where I can put it in different lanes, this is one of my favorite racetracks. We just didn’t have the speed today for the competition, straight-line speed. I had some great runs on even J.R. there the last few laps, and I just couldn’t do anything with it. But I think third is a really good result today coming from 15th and knowing the weekend that we had last year.”
During the last segment of the race, a lot of the teams, including Hunter-Reay’s, were debating when to pit—do they pit early or late? Hunter-Reay thought that no matter when they pitted they wouldn’t have been able to beat Helio Castroneves because it was just their weekend.
“The problem with stopping earlier is the degradation is so big, right; like J.R. stopped earlier and he was another three or four laps, I was going to be giving him a really hard time,” Hunter-Reay stated. “That’s the kind of gamble you play. You can come in and get the reward up front of going quick, but you’re going to have to pay for it at the end of the stint, and that’s what we were kind of contemplating.
“But it was good to get by Will there on the strategy. We pitted when Helio did, a lap earlier than Will, I think, and ended up getting by him. It was tough out there. With the track temp as high as it is being a day race, once you get to about lap 30 or 35 on tires, it’s like running on an ice skate rink with sneakers on. You want your own piece of real estate, and it’s very — it becomes very difficult, especially at the end. You feel like you’ve taken off your wings and are just sliding all around.”