Monday, April 19, 2010

Ryan Hunter-Reay wins Izod IndyCar Series race at Long Beach

Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Izod IndyCar Series race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach ending a 28-race winless drought for Andretti Autosport. Hunter-Reay dedicated the win to his mother, who died of cancer in November.
“The car was so much fun to drive,” Hunter-Reay said. “That was some of the most fun I've had in a race car because it was handling so well. My mom was out there with me today. She just passed away recently. This race is for her. I was in a great zone. It was on the last couple of laps where I said (to myself), 'Thanks for being with me today, Mom.' We were the fastest car out there today. We deserved it. This is like a home race for me."
Hunter-Reay, who used to live in nearby Dana Point, was one of four drivers for Andretti Autosport in the Grand Prix of Long Beach. He is the only driver running a partial schedule for the team, making his win at Long Beach all the more incredible.
It was the first win for Andretti Autosprot since Tony Kanaan won at Richmond International Raceway in 2008.
"I am happy for Ryan, and I think he deserves this win,” said Kanaan, who finished fifth. “He was quick all weekend. We did all we could, but we lost a couple of positions on our pit stop. It was a hard race and seemed to be very physically demanding. I am happy for the Andretti Autosport team, and I feel like when one teammate wins, it is a victory for all of us. We are on the right track, and I am looking forward to heading into the ovals."
Justin Wilson recovered from a damaged front wing after getting clipped by Alex Tagliani and rallied for second place.
"I am really disappointed,” Wilson said. “Alex was a lap down and he nearly took Ryan (Hunter-Reay) out a couple of times. Once Ryan got past, it got him off line and slowed him up. I dove down the inside of Turn 8, and I braked pretty late. I just got the door slammed in my face. Even if you aren't going to give way to the leaders, you need to leave room at the apex to back out. Nothing you can do about it. We had to come in and change the front wing and we were just in mad fuel saving mode after that. It's just a shame that it happened.”
Wilson matched his best finish of the season. He was second at St. Petersburg, Fla. His runner-up finishes are also the best for his Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team since Robbie Buhl won at Walt Disney World Speedway in 2000.
“We had a great day,” Wilson said. “The Z-Line Designs car was fantastic. To have a front wing change and to come back in finish second is an amazing day."
Will Power, the pole winner, ran into some more hard luck at Long Beach and finished third. Power won the Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2008, the last Champ Car race. He won the pole at Long Beach last year, but Dario Franchitti won the race.
"Once Justin passed me, I tried for a couple of laps, but there was no point in putting the car in the wall,” Power said. “The Verizon Wireless car is still leading in points, and the team has a goal of winning the championship, so we are still in line for that.”
James Hinchcliffe won the first race of his Firestone Indy Lights career and his first in 18 career Indy Lights starts.
The win at Long Beach put Hinchcliffe back in the championship race. He is in third place, 41 points behind J.K. Vernay, the leader in the Indy Lights standings.
Hinchcliffe started on the pole at Long Beach and led all 45 laps of the race.
"It’s been a long time coming,” Hinchcliffe said. “We had a couple close calls last year. Even this year, we were on the pole in the first race at St. Pete and sort of got taken out there in the first corner. We didn’t get a chance to show what we had in the race.”
Hinchcliffe won the pole for the season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., but rainy conditions led to some treacherous racing. Vernay won the race in St. Petersburg and followed with a win at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. Hinchcliffe finished fifth at Barber.
“Barber didn’t go great,” Hinchcliffe said. “We started P5 because of a problem with qualifying and finished P5. For us to come here and get pole, we were quick right off the truck, good in practice, pole position, to lead to lead light to flag was a really good feeling.”

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