The Indy 500 is often a good indicator of who’ll be
fighting for the title at season’s end, but both Will
Power and Hunter-Reay suffered DNFs at Indy in
2012. RHR had a CV joint break and Power got
caught up in Mike Conway’s accident (LEF T).
(RIGHT) An enormous realization.
(BELOW RIGHT) Shared joy with
team owner and strategist, Michael
Andretti. (FAR RIGHT) The duel at
dusk, moments before the tale
takes a twist. (LEFT) In the hotel
the morning after, it’s sunk in, and
RHR tells RACER how it went down.
“to come back and
win milwaukee was
massive for us”
Series title sponsor IZOD, was only for a
handful of races. Yet Hunter-Reay finished
second in his first race for AA and won his
fourth at Long Beach – a hugely emotional
victory that came soon after his mother
had succumbed to cancer. By then, Andretti
had decided that here was a guy around
whom he could rebuild his team, a de facto
lead driver who’d been missing since Dario
Franchitti’s departure at the end of ’07.
“The major thing that appealed to me
about Ryan was that he could run strong
on every type of racetrack,” says Andretti,
“and there aren’t many out there who can.
Then he immediately started achieving
results for us, too. But he also brought
other values to our team, like being good
with sponsors and being the ultimate team
player. But it was his versatility that meant
he would be a championship contender –
if we could provide him the car.”
And so Michael used his own money
to fund Hunter-Reay’s car. Fast forward
to the present, and RHR’s ongoing
gratitude for that move is one reason why
he stopped pursuing a Penske ride for
2013 and instead re-signed with Andretti.
After crashing out of title contention (TOP), Will Power went to
Victory Lane to congratulate his rival. “To be honest, I’ve always
rated Ryan’s talent,” says Power. “He did a nice job all year.”