Hunter-Reay’s title defense begins with same group

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Defending IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay has had a busy offseason, but now only a few weeks out from the season opener in St. Petersburg, will be back to his day job.

The entire team for his championship-winning No. 28 DHL/Sun Drop Dallara-Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport is back in place this year. The only change is a shift from the No. 28 to the champion’s No. 1.

“100% of the 28 car is still together,” he told me at a press event for the Milwaukee IndyFest earlier this year. “We have some more engineering changes. But I’m excited – if you stay still and not progress, you get left behind.”

The difference this year to last in terms of the Dallara DW12 is a year’s worth of data, experience and racing with the car, which entered the 2012 season opener as an untested product.

“We’ve brought some things full circle this year,” he said. “There’s been a lot of time to work on the DW12. On race weekends you’re stabbing at car setup, but you develop over a season. We were testing against what we had. Now we understand where we want to start.”

Hunter-Reay raced in an SRT Viper last October in Road Atlanta, and will race in a Level 5 Motorsports HPD prototype at this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring on March 16. He also competed in the Race of Champions in Bangkok at the end of last year, representing Team USA.

More importantly on the personal side, he and wife Beccy welcomed their first child, son Ryden born December 28. The 28 is a special number for Hunter-Reay, as it represents 28 million people fighting cancer. Hunter-Reay is a Livestrong ambassador.

IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold