Hunter-Reay grabs points lead with third straight win|
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Ryan Hunter-Reay made a strong statement in
Sunday's Honda Indy Toronto that he is the driver to beat for this year's IZOD
IndyCar Series championship.
Hunter-Reay continued his red-hot summer streak by winning his third
consecutive race in the series. The Andretti Autosport driver also moved atop
the standings, as he holds a 34-point lead over Will Power, who finished 15th.
"Three in a row, I don't even know what to think about this," Hunter-Reay
said. "We're looking to make a championship run here, no doubt about it."
Hunter-Reay took the lead for the first time on lap 49 and then ran in front
for all but one of the remaining 37 circuits around the 1.75-mile, 11-turn
Exhibition Place street course in Toronto. He gave up the lead when he made
his second and final pit stop.
A caution for an incident involving rookies Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden
set up a three-lap shootout to the finish. After the final restart, Sebastian
Bourdais was bumped from behind and spun into the turn one barrier before a
multi-car crash occurred in turn three, involving Dario Franchitti, Ryan
Briscoe, Ed Carpenter, Marco Andretti and Pagenaud. The race ended under
"I didn't know what to expect at the beginning of the race," said Hunter-Reay,
who won in IndyCar for the eighth time. "The car was loose, but it really came
to us. And (team owner) Michael (Andretti) was just great on the radio today.
He was saying, 'Save those tires for restarts.' We saved the tires and gapped
them at the end."
Hunter-Reay had won at Milwaukee and Iowa -- both oval tracks -- prior to
He became the first American driver to record three victories in a row in the
series since A.J. Allmendinger did it in 2006. On Saturday, NASCAR revealed
that Allmendinger has been "temporarily suspended" from competition after
violating its substance abuse policy. He drives for Penske Racing in the
Sprint Cup Series.
Andretti won seven CART/Champ Car races as a driver on the streets of Toronto
before scoring his first victory here as an IndyCar team owner.
"We were lucky with the strategy there when we pitted before that yellow
(first caution) came out, and he just drove a perfect race," Andretti said.
"It's great to finally win one here as an owner."
Charlie Kimball from Chip Ganassi Racing recorded his first career podium
finish in IndyCar with a second-place run.
"Now that I'm here, it's a big deal," Kimball said. "The car was good all day.
All I had to do was turn the wheel and press the pedals."
Mike Conway finished third, while Tony Kanaan placed fourth after rebounding
from a drive-through penalty for hitting a tire in another competitor's pit
stall. Oriol Servia completed the top-five.
Helio Castroneves, J.R. Hildebrand, James Jakes, Takuma Sato and Canadian Alex
Tagliani finished sixth through 10th, respectively. Pagenaud, who had led 23
laps and was on pace for a top-five run before his incident with Newgarden in
the closing laps, wound up finishing 12th. Newgarden placed one spot behind
him in 13th.
Power, who entered this race with a three-point lead over Hunter-Reay,
sustained a broken wing on his left-front tire after he made contact with
Newgarden on lap 56. The Penske driver fell one lap behind when he was forced
to pit two times for repairs.
"I just touched the back of his car, and these (wings) are just so weak,"
Power said. "It ruined my day."
Scott Dixon fell 54 points behind Hunter-Reay following his last-place finish
in the 25-car field. Dixon suffered engine failure and retired on the eighth
Franchitti's bid for a fourth IndyCar title in a row is all but over after he
ended up finishing 17th. Franchitti started on the pole and led the first five
laps, but the Ganassi driver had a lengthy pit stop due to a fueling issue and
never recovered from there. He is now 105 points out of the lead.
"It was just a miscommunication in the pits," Franchitti admitted.
Just five race remain this season, with the series running next on July 22 in
Franchitti has started on the pole in the last three races but has failed to
finish each one of them. He didn't even start the June 23 Iowa race when his
engine expired during the pace laps.
"It just seems like it's one thing after another," he said.
Toronto-native James Hinchcliffe had engine failure as well shortly before the
halfway point and finished 22nd in front of his home crowd.
"It's a shame," Hinchcliffe said. "I'm definitely disappointed for everybody
here in Toronto. The fan support here this weekend has just been awesome. It's
just too bad I didn't get a better finish."
Hinchcliffe's team made an engine change on Friday, resulting in a 10-grid
spot penalty. He started 19th.
07/08 17:08:23 ET