By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
NEWTON, Iowa – Ryan Hunter-Reay’s chances for a third consecutive win at Iowa Speedway came to an abrupt end after blown engine forced him to retire.
The No. 28 DHL Honda driver came into the weekend with high expectations.
Andretti Autosport had won seven of the previous nine races, including the last six-in-a-row.
However, it became evident in practice sessions and qualifying on Saturday that a win would be a tall order for the 35-year-old American.
After starting the Iowa Corn 300 from 20th, Hunter-Reay struggled early, going a lap down to eventual race winner Josef Newgarden, before suffering the mechanical failure on lap 109 and ending his day.
“It [the engine] just popped without warning but that was the least of our problems today,” Hunter-Reay said. “That was the most out of shape I think we have ever been. I’m not really sure. We’re going to have to look at it.
“I couldn’t get out on my own way out there on a track that I absolutely love and that this team has historically been so good at. It just goes to show you that you can never get ahead of yourself. You always have to keep working. You always have to find a way to be faster.
“We came here for a test and it was a pretty productive test and had some hard times there but wow this was really bad today. It was something I just couldn’t find a solution to. We tried some significant changes. Not huge but significant ones trying to settle the rear. My big problem was I could not get around a car at all. If I got around a car it felt like I lost two thousand pounds of downforce. On mid to late tires I was just skating around on top of the track like I had no wings on the car.
“It was amazing. I had never felt anything like that.”