Prior to Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 300, Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series campaign could be described with such words as disappointing, difficult, challenging, and troublesome.
Brief highlights in the otherwise tough year include a fourth-place finish at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and a third-place at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but otherwise, Hunter-Reay’s season has featured eight finishes of 11th or worse, including three DNFs.
However, a strong history at Iowa Speedway, highlighted by three wins, left room for optimism ahead of Sunday’s 300-lap outing, and Hunter-Reay was able to deliver on that optimism.
Starting 15th, Hunter-Reay was on the move from the outset, climbing all the way up to seventh in the opening stint. He then cracked the top five just after lap 100.
Although he couldn’t quite muster the speed to challenge for the win, Hunter-Reay battled with the leaders the rest of the race and ended up in third at the end to match his best result of the season.
Speaking to NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt afterward, Hunter-Reay explained that he and the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport team made a slew of changes to the chassis to improve its handling and speed, and their changes paid big dividends.
“We made a ton of changes. Credit to this team. When I got here it was so loose,” Hunter-Reay explained. “We made some changes. Only (one hour and 15 minutes) of practice. Made the most of it. Made the most for warmup and the race. Had too little front wing. But we got it dialed in there. I had the car that I needed, finally.”
Hunter-Reay added that it was nice to be fighting at the front again. “It was fun. Nice to be back on the podium. Great for DHL, Andretti Autosport and the 28 team. We’ve had two or three podiums. We just need the momentum,” he finished.
Hunter-Reay now sits 14th in the championship standings, 23 points behind tenth-place Max Chilton.