LONG POND, PA – Ryan Hunter-Reay didn’t come out and say it, but I would think that he would be okay with not returning to the Pocono Raceway in the future. For some reason, this track has been a thorn in his side.
In 2015, the year that he did win, his friend and teammate Justin Wilson was tragically killed in a late race incident when a piece of Sage Karam’s nose cone hit Wilson in the helmet on Lap 180 of the 200 lap race that day. It was a somber celebration.
Two years later, Hunter-Reay was hospitalized following a vicious qualifying crash that saw him take a hit at over 100 g’s. He’d luckily have a short stay and come back to the track to race again the next day.
A year after that, Hunter-Reay was hit by Robert Wickens on Lap 6 of last year’s ABC Supply 500 in Turn 2 which saw Wickens’ car fly over Hunter-Reay’s when the two went towards the SAFER barrier.
On the opening lap this year, Hunter-Reay was hit again and like last year, crashed in Turn 2.
Takuma Sato made a dangerous move on the opening lap of Sunday’s race which sparked a five car accident that saw him get upside down and Felix Rosenqvist into the catch fencing.
Luckily, Rosenqvist was able to walk away albeit was later transferred by ground to a local hospital for non life threatening injuries, but it was an accident that should have never happened and could have had grave consequences.
Sato, didn’t necessarily think he did anything wrong. That’s why I’m even more concerned about why he did it. He clearly wasn’t clear of Alexander Rossi but came down on him anyways. That contact forced Rossi’s steering to go out and Sato into Hunter-Reay who was below Rossi on track too. Sato and Hunter-Reay hit the inside wall and spun back up towards the outside SAFER barrier in Turn 2.
Rossi, meanwhile went straight towards the Turn 2 wall himself and collected Rosenqvist and James Hinchcliffe. Sato, hit the outside wall with Hunter-Reay and got upside down.
“From my perspective, I had a nice clean run on (Alexander) Rossi,” said Hunter-Reay. “I was almost three quarters of the way alongside and all the sudden out of nowhere, I’m backwards and I’m seeing the rest of the field coming as I’m backing into it. Then I saw Felix (Rosenqvist) go up into the fence.
“My view is that it was ridiculous. I think God everyone is alright. I thought we learned out lesson from last year. Lap 1 of a 500 mile race.”
Hunter-Reay leaves with his fourth finish outside of the top 10 in the last five races of the season.