Hunter-Reay speaks out about incidents that led up to Pocono crash

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Ryan Hunter-Reay was so dumbfounded that some thought he triggered the first-lap crash at Pocono on Sunday, the 2012 NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner showed his own video to prove that the crash happened without his involvement.

Hunter-Reay used an NBC Sports video of the crash shot from Turn 2 that showed Sato and Alexander Rossi already crashing with Hunter-Reay’s car in its own lane. He sent that video out on Twitter.

The Lap 1 crash was the second year in a row that the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono had to be stopped because of a massive crash at the start of the contest. Last year in the same portion of the track, Robert Wickens’ car ran over the back of Hunter-Reay’s and was launched into the fence. Wickens suffered serious injuries and remains paralyzed from the waist down.

This year, it was driver Felix Rosenqvist that ended up in the fence in the aftermath of the Sato incident that also included Alexander Rossi.

On Tuesday, Sato had released an onboard video shot from his Honda that showed his hands did not move on the steering wheel. That created a brief Twitter storm where some actually accused Hunter-Reay of initiating the contact.

The NBC Sports video clearly shows that he did not. But with three cars running three-abreast entering Turn 2 at Pocono Raceway, there was zero room for error.

“Takuma was third man in, he was the aggressor on that,” Hunter-Reay told NBC Sports.com Wednesday. “I gave Alex plenty of room. I think from the time you exit Turn 1 as you are going into Turn 2, we take our natural line we take on any lap which is you exit up by the wall, come down to the left and then arc it back up to the right to set up for the corner.

“But as Takuma said in his interview immediately after the accident when you get the clearest, most unbiased response from drivers, he said he thought he was clear. He was coming down and it looked that way, too. Maybe his spotter told him he was clear, or he misjudged it and thought he was clear.”

Hunter-Reay said steering wheel inputs do not indicate the movement of the car because steering loads are adjusted by each driver and crew. Also, an onboard camera shows a very narrow view, where the Turn 2 camera shows a much wider view of the entire field.

“You wouldn’t even be able to see the hand movement and the car will move,” Hunter-Reay said. “The angle from Turn 2 to Turn 1, the one that I posted, it shows everything. Alex and I at the time of the incident are driving straight, we aren’t moving unpredictably or squeezing each other.

“Taku joined the party, he was the third man in, he came across Alex’s nose because he thought he was clear.

“Like I said on my Tweet, I find it hard to believe people are actually debating this. It’s unfortunate it happened; it’s racing, and it was a misjudgment.”

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Hunter-Reay said there are some seams in the asphalt at Pocono that can grab a car’s tires, but he believes Sato was trying to gradually get into Scott Dixon’s draft, he thought he was clear, and tried to pull in front of Rossi, but Rossi’s Honda was still there.

NBC Sports.com attempted to get an additional comment from Alexander Rossi, but he declined, saying he “is focused ahead on the race this weekend and the championship ahead and is not concerned about the incident any longer.”

Sato and Hunter-Reay were teammates at Andretti Autosport in 2017 when Sato won the 101stIndianapolis 500. Hunter-Reay said the two drivers remain friends, but he wanted to clear up the misconception that Hunter-Reay somehow started the incident.

“You have to look at all angles to determine what happened,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s a sensitive subject because it’s Pocono. We have had some pretty big incidents there, and that doesn’t have to do with Pocono or not.

“That’s why this has had so much more focus on it.”

Red Bull driver Verstappen wins Formula One’s Brazilian GP

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won Formula One’s Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday for his eighth career victory in a race which ended disastrously for both Ferrari drivers.

Verstappen controlled nearly all the race at Interlagos, which saw a dramatic late collision between Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc when they fought for the fourth position. Both failed to finish.

Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly got his first F1 podium after finishing second ahead of six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver was third but faces an investigation after an incident that caused Red Bull’s Alexander Albon to spin.

Hamilton, who won at Interlagos in 2018, said Verstappen was “just quicker than us on the straights” and “there was nothing more we could do.”

Dutch driver Verstappen said “Lewis was very quick so I had to keep pushing… we had two good moves with him, and from there onward I could control the race.”

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fourth, and could be promoted to third if Hamilton is punished.

The Brazilian GP on Sunday was the penultimate race of the season, with only Abu Dhabi left on Dec.1.

Hamilton had already secured the season title in the previous race in the United States. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who did not finish the race, had also secured the runner-up spot.