Andretti Autosport is much improved in 2010
A quarter of the way into the IZOD IndyCar Series season, four different teams are represented in the top five of the championship standings.
|Andretti Autosport's Hunter-Reay was dominant on Sunday|
The third different and most recent race winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay, isn't surprised at all. The field is deep with road racing talent, and is equally broad in oval experience.
"That's what I love about IndyCar," said Hunter-Reay, who guided the No. 37 IZOD car to victory in the 36th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 18. "There is no series in the world that goes from a road course like we just did (Barber Motorsports Park on April 11), to a street course, to an oval. That's what it's about; you have to stay on your toes.
"The talent that you bring to it has to be diverse, and that's what I enjoy about IndyCar."
After four street/road course events, the attention turns to a four-race set on divergent ovals - beginning May 1 at Kansas Speedway for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300.
"I'm looking forward to getting in some great race cars when I'm turning left," Hunter-Reay said. "It's a struggle on ovals when you're not fast. When you have the car and you have the team behind you, it can be some of most fun racing you do."
Hunter-Reay has had the team behind him throughout this season, and on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach temporary street circuit he delivered for Andretti Autosport. It was the team's first victory since Tony Kanaan's prevailed on the Richmond International Raceway bullring in June 2008.
It also was the second consecutive strong showing for Andretti Autosport, which this year is solely owned and operated by Michael Andretti. At Barber Motorsports Park, Marco Andretti led a field-high 58 laps and finished fifth in the No. 26 Team Venom Energy car. Kanaan was eighth in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car.
This week, Kanaan joined Hunter-Reay in the top five.
"Last week we dominated the race, almost won, and this week dominated and won," Michael Andretti said. "And I was happy that Ryan got us the win and for IZOD being the great supporter and the best series sponsor we could every want. What they're doing with all the things, this thing is about to explode. I'm so excited about the future of IndyCar racing right now."
Hunter-Reay, who recently moved from California to his home state of Florida and kicked off the season with a runner-up finish in Brazil, said the victory was especially gratifying because of its location.
"This is where I had my first big‑time race in Atlantics, and also my first big‑time race in kart," said Hunter-Reay, whose initial series victory came at Watkins Glen International in July 2008. "I've been telling everybody ‑‑ not to make Michael feel old but I remember being a kid and watching the TV, watching him win, and I was playing with my cars on the rug."
Andretti, who posted his first Indy car victory in 1986 at Long Beach and his last in 2002, laughed with the others in the post-race news conference.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Justin Wilson finished 5.6 seconds behind Hunter-Reay, and Team Penske's Will Power widened his championship points margin to 42 over teammate Helio Castroneves with a third-place finish. Hunter-Reay (129) is third, Wilson (125) is fourth and two-time series champion Scott Dixon (112) is fifth after advancing four positions to finish fourth at Long Beach.
"Andretti has picked up the pace and they're right there now," said Power, a two-time winner this season and the pole sitter at Long Beach. "Like I predicted, the championship is going to be tight, and you're going to see a lot of different race winners."