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.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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