Hunter-Reay named RACER’s Racer, Road Racer of 2012

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The readers of RACER magazine and Racer.com have chosen IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay as their overall RACER of the Year and Road Racer of the Year for 2012.

Now in its 18th year, the RACER of the Year Awards presented by Hawk Performance is open to racers from a wide cross-section of motorsports series and determined entirely by reader voting. It’s that breadth of competition and fan-powered format that gives RACER of the Year its prestige and makes it an accolade that racers want to win.

Past winners of the overall RACER of the Year include Tony Stewart, Michael Schumacher, John Force, Lewis Hamilton and Jimmie Johnson. In joining them, Hunter-Reay becomes the first overall winner from North American open-wheel racing since Paul Tracy in 2003, the first IZOD IndyCar Series Champion and first American-born open-wheel champion to win the prestigious award.

Over the course of the season, Hunter-Reay took four victories in his Andretti Autosport Dallara-Chevrolet, more than any other driver, taking two oval wins, at Milwaukee and Iowa, and two street-course wins at Toronto and Baltimore. He clinched the title in a tense season finale at Fontana, eventually beating Will Power (Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet) by just three points.

Once again, RACER magazine and Racer.com readers voted in record numbers, powering Hunter-Reay to a comfortable victory in both categories. The Andretti Autosport driver beat NHRA Pro Stock star Erica Enders, Top Fuel champ Antron Brown and Formula 1 aces Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel to the overall RACER of the Year title.

In Road Racer of the Year voting, he finished ahead of two previous winners of the category, IndyCar’s Will Power and three-time and reigning F1 champ Vettel.

Ryan said: “I’m honored to have been chosen as the 2012 overall RACER of the Year as well as the Road Racer of the Year. A sincere thank you to all of those fans who took the time to vote. For consideration of this honor, my name was placed among distinguished drivers I feel privileged to be associated with, let alone to be the driver chosen. As the first Indy car driver selected since 2003, I’m proud to be able to represent IndyCar, Andretti Autosport and our partners DHL, Sun Drop and Chevrolet.

“While 2012 was a hard-fought season, it was also a dream season in so many ways and it certainly would not have been possible without the unwavering support I’ve received from our team, sponsors, my family and of course the fans.  Thank you for pushing me to limits I deemed unattainable, that’s what being a RACER is all about.”

Malsher will personally deliver both coveted RACER of the Year presented by Hawk Performance trophies to Hunter-Reay at a special IZOD IndyCar Series preseason event in St. Petersburg, FL on Thursday, March, 21 prior to the opening race of the series on Sunday March 24.

Other winners voted for by RACER’s readers include:

Oval Racer of the Year – 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski.

Drag Racer of the Year – 2012 NHRA Top Fuel Champion Antron Brown.

Rookie of the Year – NHRA Funny Car race-winner Courtney Force.

RACER’s editors also selected these 2012 winners:

Car of the year: Toyota TS030 Hybrid WEC LMP1 Hybrid

Career Achievement: Sebastian Loeb, 9-time FIA World Rally Champion

Previous winners of the RACER of the Year:

2011: Tony Stewart, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion

2010: John Force, NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car Champion (his 15th title)

2009: Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion

2008: Kyle Busch, 8 wins in Sprint Cup, 10 in Nationwide, 3 in Craftsman Trucks

2007: Lewis Hamilton, four wins and six poles in debut F1 season

2006: Michael Schumacher, F1’s all-time winner retires after battling for 8th title

2005: Tony Stewart, NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Champion

2004: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Daytona 500 winner + 5 more NASCAR victories

2003: Paul Tracy, CART Champ Car Series Champion

2002: Michael Schumacher, F1 World Champion

2001: Michael Schumacher, F1 World Champion

2000: Michael Schumacher, F1 World Champion

1999: Juan Pablo Montoya, CART Fed-Ex Series Champion

1998: Jeff Gordon, NASCAR Winston Cup Series Champion

1997: Tommy Kendall, 11 wins in a row to claim 3rd straight SCCA Trans-Am title

1996: Jacques Villeneuve, On pole in first F1 start, won 4 races in his rookie season

1995: Jacques Villeneuve, CART PPG IndyCar World Series / Indy 500 Champ

G’day mate: Will Power wins first career Indy 500, Carpenter second, Dixon third

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After 10 prior tries, Will Power, the pride and joy of Toowoomba, Australia, finally earned the biggest prize of his IndyCar career, capturing Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

“I’m so excited, I can’t believe we won the Indy 500,” Power said in Victory Lane. “I’ve just about lost my voice from screaming so much.

“With one to go, I was screaming. I was thinking, ‘Man, I’m going to win this.’ I’ve had so many wins and poles in my career, but I can’t imagine winning a race like this in front of a crowd like this. It’s just amazing.”

It also marks the 17th Indy 500 win for team owner Roger Penske, as well as Team Penske’s 201st all-time IndyCar win, with Power taking No. 200 two weeks ago in the Grand Prix.

Power’s previous best finish in the 500 was runner-up in 2015.

In doing so, the 37-year-old Power not only earned his first 500 title, he also becomes the first driver to win the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indy 500 in the same month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, having won the GP on May 12.

Power took the lead on Lap 197 after race leaders Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey were forced to pit road for a splash of fuel.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter finished second, followed by Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud, Carlos Munoz, Josef Newgarden, Robert Wickens and Graham Rahal.

Here’s how the race played out:

Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan were the first drivers to hit pit road in the race, both on Lap 31. The rest of the field came in for service over the next three laps.

On Lap 48, in the first contact of the day, defending 500 winner Takuma Sato wrecked with James Davison, knocking both drivers out of the race.

Davison had struggled throughout the race to maintain a competitive speed. Sato came out of Turn 3 at full speed and had nowhere to go, unable to avoid Davison’s car, running into its left rear, destroying both cars.

“We knew Davison was running way up high and running slow … and it looked like we just didn’t see him or didn’t understood the closing rate and hit him,” team owner Bobby Rahal told the IMS Radio Network. “It’s very disappointing.”

After being medically cleared at the infield care center, Davison said, “We had an anti-roll bar jam and I couldn’t choose the balance and not put any steering in it without getting loose. I feel for Takuma and his team, getting caught up in that. It’s not the situation you wanted to be involved in. It just wasn’t to be for us this year.”

Added Sato, “James seemed to be struggling, went high, we braked, slowed down and the closing speed between he and I was too small, I hit the brakes, tried to avoid him and it just sucked in.”

The Davison-Sato wreck proved to be the first of seven wrecks in the 200-lap race.

As the cleanup completed, the majority of the field came to pit road on Lap 51, most only for fuel.

On Lap 6o, another driver who did well in last year’s race, made an early exit. Ed Jones, who finished third last year as a rookie, had a one-car incident coming out of Turn 2 and saw his race come to an abrupt end.

Jones complained of a headache and neck pain and was transported to the Indiana Health facility a few miles east of the Speedway.

Danica Patrick, in the final race of her two-plus decade racing career, saw her hopes for a win also come to a premature end as she spun and hit the outside wall coming out of Turn 2, in a similar situation and location to Jones’ mishap.

“I don’t really know what happened, just came around on us,” Patrick told the IMS Radio Network. “It was a little tough to drive but I was not expecting it.”

Patrick finished 30th, the worst finish of her eight appearances in the 500.

“It just seemed to come around, seemed pretty late off the corner,” Patrick told ABC. “Today was really disappointing for what we were hoping for and what you want for your last race, but I’m grateful for all of it. I wish I could have finished stronger.

“It’s an entire career, but what really launched it was this. I’ve had a lot of good fortune here and still had some this month, it just didn’t come on race day. We had some good moments.”

Graham Rahal, who started near the back of the pack, led at the halfway point (100 laps) before falling back.

On Lap 105, Zach Veach came on pit road and suffered flames when the fueling hose disconnected. Veach returned to the track and the flames extinguished themselves, apparently not causing any damage to Veach’s car.

Just before that, Tony Kanaan had to return to pit road for an unscheduled pit stop when it appeared he was losing air in his right rear tire. The stop forced Kanaan, who had been at or near the front for much of the race, to fall one lap off the pace.

On Lap 113, rookie Kyle Kaiser suffered mechanical failure coming onto pit road that ended his day and his first appearance in the 500.

On Lap 139, Sebastien Bourdais spun coming out of Turn 3, hit the Turn 4 wall and wound up sitting backwards on the track.

On Lap 147, Helio Castroneves saw his bid for a fourth Indy 500 win end, spun coming out of Turn 4 and crashed hard into the pit road wall.

Castroneves, who was running in the top five, received a big round of cheers from fans and walked under his own power to the infield care center.

“I was never expecting it, I never had any sign,” Castroneves told ABC. “It was very frustrating. The car was good, it definitely was very tough out there.”

Castroneves already hopes to be back for next year’s 500.

“Please, Roger, I’ve gotta go back,” he said in a plea to team owner Roger Penske.

Penske told ABC, “We’ll certainly take a good look at that, for sure. … I guess he just got a little bit high. You don’t see a guy like him lose it very often, what a great guy and what he’s done for our team for so many years. He’s the fence climber and he’s one of my best guys.”

As he exited Turn 4 on Lap 155, Sage Karam hit the outside wall hard in almost the same place as where Castroneves hit.

“I really don’t know what happened, man,” Karam said over his team radio.

Another fan favorite, Tony Kanaan, joined the list of drivers that wrecked, losing it coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 190 and striking the inside retaining wall.

We’ll have more, including driver quotes and more shortly. Please check back soon.

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