Ryan Hunter-Reay confirmed to return with Andretti Autosport for 2021 IndyCar season

Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 2021
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
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Ryan Hunter-Reay will return with Andretti Autosport for the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series as the team announced Thursday the 2012 series champion will retain his full-season DHL sponsorship on the No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Hunter-Reay will return for his 12th consecutive year with Andretti after going winless and finishing 10th in the points standings last season.

He has 18 career victories and 15 with Andretti, including the 2014 Indianapolis 500 that was a highlight of his first season with DHL as a full sponsor.

“I’m eager to get to work and honored to represent both DHL and Andretti Autosport yet again,” Hunter-Reay, who has had DHL as a full sponsor since 2014, said in a release. “DHL has been one of the longest-tenured primary sponsors in IndyCar history, and that yellow 28 car has become one of the iconic INDYCAR liveries; for that I am extremely grateful.

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“I want nothing more than to add a second Indy 500 win to our accomplishments and earn the title of INDYCAR Champion for a second time as well. Coupled with the DHL partnership, AutoNation has also been vital to my career over the past nine years, and I’m very proud for the opportunity to continue as a Drive Pink brand ambassador as well. 2020 was a pretty unconventional season, and we left the year with unfinished business. Overall, as a team, we’re focused on extracting the maximum potential from the speed we had in 2020.”

Andretti has three confirmed drivers — Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta — for the 2021 season after fielding cars for five last year.

Marco Andretti is expected to return for his 16th consecutive season with the team, and James Hinchcliffe is working to secure sponsorship to return full time with Andretti after replacing the departed Zach Veach for the last three races in 2020.

“We’re really happy to welcome both DHL and Ryan back for the 2021 IndyCar season,” Andretti Autosport chairman and CEO Michael Andretti said in a release. “Over the past 10 years, DHL has become family to us, and Ryan has recorded some of the team’s greatest accomplishments. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2021 brings.”

The NTT IndyCar season will begin next month at Barber Motorsports Park.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)