IndyCar: Indy 500 champ Ryan Hunter-Reay endures rough Detroit weekend

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In every form of sport, the pendulum is always swinging between victory and defeat. Sometimes, it swings rather quickly.

Last weekend, Ryan Hunter-Reay had the biggest moment of his career when he won the Indianapolis 500. That victory also enabled him to make up a ton of Verizon IndyCar Series championship points as well.

But the driver of Andretti Autosport’s No. 28 DHL Honda came down to earth in a big way this weekend at the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans.

Nearly everything that could go wrong for him did in both 70-lap races.

Today, Hunter-Reay was forced to start in the last row after brushing the wall in qualifying for the second time in as many days. Like everyone else, he tried to play the strategy game and salvage his Motor City weekend, but he was sidelined with 10 laps to go due to an electrical failure.

“I’ll try to erase this one from my memory and try to move on to Texas,” Hunter-Reay told ESPN. “What put us out was we lost pressure in the shift actuator, so we couldn’t get out of first gear.

“But from the beginning, we started with a puncture and had to come in. Then we were off-strategy, we tried saving fuel, then we had to abandon that because [the race] went green in the middle. Nothing we did worked this weekend.”

In Saturday’s Dual 1, Hunter-Reay found the tire barriers in the final lap while trying to pass teammate Marco Andretti and finished 16th.

Today, he had to swallow a 19th-place result, which causes him to fall to third place in the championship at 27 points behind Saturday’s winner, Will Power (today’s winner, Helio Castroneves, is second at 19 points behind).

All in all, it was a pretty crummy weekend on Belle Isle for our new ‘500’ champion. Afterwards, he echoed his TV comments of erasing the weekend on his Twitter page.

On the bright side, he will soon get to enjoy another perk of winning the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – and one that should provide him with a needed laugh or two.

“You just move on from these and we’re gonna go to New York tomorrow and be on [The Late Show with David Letterman],” he said. “So that will be fun.”

Still, as he himself noted, he could’ve used some fun on the track today.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.