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Drivers laud Surfers amid push to win over bosses
The Nikon Indy 300 has already won the hearts of the drivers, now it must win the minds of the Indy Racing League powerbrokers, according to former Surfers Paradise race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The 28-year-old Texan finished eighth this year in the IRL and is hopeful the Gold Coast race will be on the calendar for his championship surge next year.

"This place is the template for all street circuits," he said.

"The way that the event takes place is top notch. But the bottom line for (IRL boss) Tony George and the Indy Racing League is business.

"It has to make business sense. In the drivers' hearts I am sure it is number one. It sure is for me. Indy 500 is of course the ultimate, but when it comes to street racing Indy 300 is the best.

"All the drivers want to come back and the series I am sure wants to come back. It just has to make business sense and I am sure they will work that out."

Hunter-Reay burst onto the racing scene in the late 1990s, winning six American karting championships and three grand national karting titles before turning his attention to open-wheel race cars. In 2003, he moved up to the Indy car level and quickly became the first American rookie in 20 years to win a race when he took the checkered flag at Surfers Paradise.

Last year he stepped into the IRL mid-season as part of the Rahal Letterman Racing team. Despite competing in only six events he took out the rookie of the year title.

Hunter-Reay had a solid 2008, but is chasing more consistency in a series he says is much tougher since the merger of IRL and Champ Cars.

"There were races that got away from us this year," he said. "We need to concentrate on better consistency. I am just happy that IndyCar is back, all the big names, all the drivers, big fields.

"It's perfect for this race on the Gold Coast because it deserves it. However competition has been very tough.

"Last year, you could have an OK day and be in the top seven. This year it is a serious accomplishment to qualify in the top 10.

He still rates the Gold Coast win as his career highlight. Goldcoast.com

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