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Ryan Hunter-Reay Stops Traffic in Times Square UPDATE Added photo of Hunter-Reay in Times Square with IZOD billboard behind him.

Ryan Hunter-Reay in Times Square
07/08/08 A beaming Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) stood on a replica Indy Car yesterday in famed Times Square and pointed at a huge likeness of himself looming over the New York City streets.

“Yesterday I was next, today I’m now!” he grinned to the cameraman, responding to the ‘I Am Next’ tagline on the massive billboard unveiled earlier this week by American clothing manufacturer IZOD. The billboard features Rahal Letterman Racing’s latest race winner along with the schedule information for the four races from Watkins Glen to Edmonton.

The billboard, which hangs in Times Square next to the ESPN Zone, shows Hunter-Reay in his Ethanol IndyCar uniform along with the distinct IZOD logo. The apparel company recently announced a personal sponsorship with Hunter-Reay, as well as one with the Indy Racing League, which led to the Floridian’s face flying above Broadway.

“It’s surreal,” Hunter-Reay smiled. “To go into the most famous and busiest intersection in America and to see a 90-foot image of myself was like a dream. It was actually crazier to see my name up there than it was to see my picture.”

The IZOD company had an IndyCar show car painted in its corporate livery for the Times Square photo shoot and used the car with Hunter-Reay near the billboard.

As the posed shots with the billboard were taken, a crane with a basket carried a lone man in front of Hunter-Reay’s likeness and stopped in front of the ‘I Am Next’ tagline. Opening two large cans of spray paint, the man crossed out the ‘Next’ from the phrase and inserted the word ‘Now’ above it - in tribute to IndyCar Series victory at Watkins Glen.

“To see that billboard changed like that was really cool, and I still can’t believe that it worked out like that, that we won the race on the weekend we announce our partnership,” Hunter-Reay said. “But it’s going to be time to get back to work in a day or two because Nashville is coming fast and we intend to be ready to run well.”

This weekend’s victory for Hunter-Reay was his first in the IndyCar Series and his third in major open-wheel competition. The win was the 20th for the Rahal Letterman Racing organization.

The team will look to keep its momentum going at the Nashville Superspeedway this weekend as Firestone Indy 200 will take place under the lights at the 1.33-mile oval.

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