Ryan Hunter-Reay earned his first IndyCar title like a true champion, but admits that he is baffled as to how it came about.
Hunter-Reay came into the MavTV 500 17 points behind Power and drove a smart race, ending up in fourth place and winning the IZOD IndyCar Series. He had to finish no lower than sixth if he was to win his first IndyCar title.
“I have no idea (how I won this championship),” Hunter-Reay beamed after the race. “I just drove 500 miles for my life. I can’t believe we’re IndyCar champions.”
But it was far from an easy night of racing at the Auto Club Speedway.
“We were struggling all weekend. I didn’t want to let anyone really know about it. We were really in the woods,” he said. “I didn’t think we had it for the first half of the race and we kept getting it better and better and better.”
Being crowned 2012 champion capped of a successful weekend for Hunter-Reay. He had renewed his contract with Andretti Autosport for two more years and added the A.J. Foyt Trophy, which goes to the driver with the best record on oval tracks, to his trophy case.
Heralding Hunter-Reay as series champion came much to the dismay of Will Power. For the third year running, Power has to be satisfied going into the IndyCar books as runner up. The driver lost control of his car and tapped the wall on lap 55 of the 250-lap race.
“You can’t make a mistake like that.” Power added he was happy with the season despite finishing second overall once again. “If I look back on the season, once again the ovals – three crashes on three ovals this year – that’s a massive hit in the points. Three years winning the road-course championship, quite convincingly, so it’s very obvious where I lack.”
Power was quick to praise Hunter-Reay for winning the 2012 title. “As all around drivers go, he’s probably the best in the series because he wins in each discipline.”