Ryan Hunter-Reay has built up a reputation of being one of the elite drivers in IndyCar, along with the leader of Andretti Autosport.
With a season championship in 2012 and 11 wins since joining the team in 2010, his credentials speak for themselves.
But the nine races complete this season, Hunter-Reay has founded himself mired down to 13th in the season standings. He has not finished on the podium once and has a best finish of 5th at Barber Motorsports Park.
Andretti Autosport has been behind the eight ball a bit this season as the team lost some key engineering staff over the offseason. As far as the aero kits go, it is a bit puzzling to why the organization is off the pace as they were the test team for Honda Performance Development.
Consistently, the best Honda team has been Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Graham Rahal finishing on the podium three times and resting fifth in the standings.
Andretti Autosport teammates Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti have been on a tear recently, and have scored the highest finish for the team this season with a 1-2 finish at the first race at Detroit. Prior to that, the closest the team had come to a podium was Simona de Silvestro finishing in 4th place at the rain soaked Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana in April.
Since then Munoz and Andretti have found a stride. Marco pulled off an unheard of 53 lap stint, twice, at Texas Motor Speedway that would have put in a position to win had it not been for Scott Dixon’s “Clean your clock” performance on the field.
Meanwhile RHR continues to struggle.
He described his car on Carb Day at Indianapolis as having no grip and wound up finishing the race in 15th place, a polar opposite of his dazzling come from behind drive on his way to the 2014 crown. During practice at Texas, he suffered his first crash on an oval since the adaption of the DW-12 chassis. In talking to him after the crash, he was dumbfounded as to why the car snapped on him.
After qualifying, many of the Honda drivers felt that they were still at a disadvantage to Chevrolet and Hunter-Reay put his hands up as if to say, “I don’t have an answer.”
Running the same car that he raced at the Indianapolis 500, there were many more aero kit options available to experiment with at TMS, but all the while Hunter-Reay still struggled to find the handle of the car and ended the day in 18th place.
“There’s something wrong with it (the car),” Hunter-Reay told Tribute Racing following the race at Texas. “We’re going to change everything. It’s not this hard and there’s no excuse for it. The car was terrible, loose.”
Next up for the #28 DHL Honda team is this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto, where Hunter-Reay won at in 2012 which solidified his championship hopes that year.
Only time will tell if Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport can turn their season around.