BELLE ISLE, Mich – Ryan Hunter-Reay earned his 65th career NTT IndyCar Series top five finish in Saturday’s rain delayed Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. It was also his third of the 2019 season too. But, Hunter-Reay leaves the track on Saturday night still frustrated by his teams performance.
See, Hunter-Reay had some problems in his race on Saturday afternoon. At Indy, his car had an issue during the INDYCAR Grand Prix. Then, his No. 28 Honda just didn’t have the pace or setup for the oval action as he’d start 22nd and luck into an eighth place run in the Indy 500 he says.
On Saturday, he says he lucked into another top five.
“We need to be better than this,” Hunter-Reay told me after scoring his fifth top eight finish in his last five races of the year. “Just had another off day. We had braking issues. Then we had a radio issue. We got away with one today in finishing fifth. We need to be better than this though.”
But, Hunter-Reay nearly was better than that. He went off course early on in the race and hit pit road for fresh tires. This time, he didn’t put on the Firestone wets, he went to slicks. All he had to hope for was a caution. If that happened, he’d be in the top two of the running order.
A few laps later, he got one. But, for whatever reason, the cars didn’t pack up before the leaders hit pit road and instead of being in the top three, Hunter-Reay was behind some of those leaders who’d yet to pit. That has him puzzled.
“We would have been P2 on that,” said Hunter-Reay. “It would have been a big difference. I have no idea what they were thinking on that. With some of the field benefit of going to slicks early, we took the risk of going to slicks with it being wet out there. Then, exactly the scenario we wanted to happen, happens, trapping all the cars on the race track on rain tires out there. Then, they let (Josef) Newdgaren do to the lead and we’re all trapped out there behind cars on rain tires who were allowed to pit. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Hunter-Reay said that his car would have been good enough in clean air to remain in there to finish on the podium. Instead, he had to settle for fifth.
“If I was in P2, I think I could have stayed in P2. I was struggling with braking and (Takuma) Sato’s is the latest divebombers out there. If anyone else would have been there would have been there they would have run into him. I try to race a little bit smarter than that.”
Now, Hunter-Reay will try again on Sunday. He has a good car to do so too. Hunter-Reay was third and sixth respectively in practice this weekend and even qualified sixth for Saturday’s race. Heading into Sunday, the American has three straight top five finishes at Belle Isle including being 1-2 last year.