We all know that Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi are the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship favorites, but what about Ryan Hunter-Reay? He’s quietly had the speed to get it done, unfortunately, the luck hasn’t been there.
Take last year as an example. Hunter-Reay, 11 top 10 finishes in 17 starts. 10 of those were in the top five. Everything else was horrible luck. It was a true feast or famine season.
He had bad luck in qualifying at Long Beach then was caught up in a crash. He’d finish 20th as a result. In the IndyCar Grand Prix, his engine went sour and he’d finish 18th. At Iowa, his car never was up to par and he’s come home 19th. A week later in Toronto, he was caught up in a crash. Pocono and Gateway ended badly for him too.
Other than that, he was a race winning contender.
In St. Pete this year, his engine blew on Lap 20.
Bad luck after bad luck. But, what happens when the luck is good?
He’s showing lately to have a ton of speed, some that is race winning capability. Hunter-Reay closed 2018 off with a second place finish in Portland and a win in Sonoma. Throw in his third place finish two weeks ago in COTA and Hunter-Reay has three podium finishes in his last four overall starts.
Just look at his practice times in 2019 too. He’s been in the top four in all six sessions. He’s also made the Fast Six for both races as well.
“The whole team is optimistic heading to the next round at Barber (Motorsports Park),” Hunter-Reay said prior to this weekend’s race. “The DHL machine has had encouraging pace at our preseason tests and the first two race events, so hopefully, we can keep that going this weekend and bring home a third Barber victory for DHL, AutoNation and Honda. The fans are always great in Birmingham, so I am looking forward to seeing them and putting on a good show.”
Hunter-Reay has rivaled everyone in terms of the speed department. He can win on any given race weekend. He just needs the bad luck to stay away. If so, then he’s a sleeper to win this year’s title.