Ryan Hunter-Reay wins second consecutive ESPY

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IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay won his second straight ESPY for best driver at Wednesday’s awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Hunter-Reay, who won this year’s Indianapolis 500 in a close finish with Helio Castroneves, became the fourth driver in ESPY history to win back-to-back awards.

When he won the award for the first time last year, Hunter-Reay became the first Indy car driver to take home an ESPY since 1997.

Hunter-Reay, who won last weekend’s IndyCar race at Iowa Speedway, defeated fellow IndyCar driver Scott Dixon, along with NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., and NHRA Funny Car driver John Force.

In that win at Iowa, the Iowa Corn Indy 300 last Saturday night, Hunter-Reay led just two laps – but they were the most important ones: the final two laps of the event.

With six races remaining on the 2014 schedule, the win at Iowa leaves Hunter-Reay third in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings with 439 points, 32 points behind points leader Castroneves (471) and 23 points behind second-ranked Will Power (462).

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Here’s who were picking to win the Indy 500 — who are YOU picking?

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Several members of the NBC Sports motorsports staff have made their predictions on who will win Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Of the six voters, two are going with 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden, while two others are going with Helio Castroneves to win a fourth 500, which would tie him with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.

Here’s our picks. Who are YOU picking?

Leigh Diffey: Helio Castroneves — He drives the place better than anyone else. For me (for what its worth) he deserves a fourth 500 ring for the frustration he went through never getting the IndyCar title!

Townsend Bell: Josef Newgarden

Nate Ryan: Simon Pagenaud — All of his 2018 misfortune on the track has disappeared in May, and it culminates in the biggest victory of his career.

Jerry Bonkowski: Helio Castroneves – There’s no pressure as he pursues his fourth Indy 500 win. All Helio has to do, as late NFL owner Al Davis would say, is “Just win, baby!” (But if Helio falls short, watch for Marco Andretti)

Kyle Lavigne: Josef Newgarden — I think he has everything he needs to get it done this year.

Dan Beaver: Robert Wickens – Has driven like anything except a rookie and his second-place finish at Phoenix proves he’s just as good on an oval as the road courses.

Follow: Jerry Bonkowski