Photo: Walter G. Arce Sr./ASP, Inc.

Hunter-Reay Fights to Second at Barber

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Ryan Hunter-Reay has a hit or miss relationship with Barber Motorsports Park and during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, the Floridian came out of Monday’s conclusion with a second-place finish.

The 2013 and 2014 Barber winner started fourth which became third after Will Power hydroplaned on the main straight and crashed on Lap 16. The race was postponed to Monday following Lap 22.

When racing resumed Monday, the No. 28 Andretti Autosport DHL Honda remained in third until pitting on Lap 52. Rain approached the track 20 laps later and Hunter-Reay pitted on Lap 74 to get rain tires. After Sebastien Bourdais pitted on Lap 76, the 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner moved to second-place where he remained until the finish behind Josef Newgarden and ahead of James Hinchcliffe.

For Hunter-Reay, there was a major sense of relief in finally having a problem-free race weekend.

“This is the first weekend this year that we’ve had no issues, no drama,” said Hunter-Reay.

“At St. Pete we had the electrical issue before the race, had to start from pit lane. At Phoenix, we had some type of fuel rig issue where we couldn’t get all the fuel in the car. And then Long Beach was Long Beach. It was nice just to have a nice, straightforward weekend.

“The team worked really hard. We kind of rolled off the truck not happy, but we continued to work on the car. Made it better through the weekend, got into the Fast Six, moved up a few spots through the race, and got a bit of everything this weekend. Nice to have that momentum rolling into May.”

Hunter-Reay hasn’t had very good luck the past couple of years either. Mechanical failures and other random happenings have kept him out of victory lane since the 2015 Pocono race but starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season off with three top five finishes out of four races has kept the 2012 series champion high in the points table in sixth place, 45 points back from season-leading Newgarden.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.