Thursday, December 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

In the Pits: Hunter-Reay proud to be IndyCar’s American star

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates after winning the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Tom Strattman)

By
May 28, 2014 |

INDIANAPOLIS — Ryan Hunter-Reay was deeply disappointed when his 2012 championship was overshadowed by IndyCar politics. His breakthrough moment was largely ignored by the league as it fought with yet another CEO.

It was a lost opportunity for a series starving for an American star, a role Hunter-Reay has desperately wanted to fill. He would knock on doors, shake hands and kiss babies if IndyCar asked, but no one ever did.

Now he’s an Indianapolis 500 winner, just the sixth American driver in 20 years to claim that title. When Tony George created IndyCar in 1996, he said it was a series that would give American drivers a chance to succeed. But Hunter-Reay is just the fourth American to win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since George launched his league, and he’s the first red, white and blue draped driver to win since 2006.

So maybe this win, the biggest by far of his career, will be the boost Hunter-Reay needs to raise his profile and that of the series he loves.

“I’m real. I’m genuine. There’s not a whole lot theatrics about me,” Hunter-Reay said Monday, a day after he nipped Helio Castroneves at the line to win Indy.

“I’m not going to put on a whole big show and jump through hoops. I’m going to be me, and I am thrilled to be here. I’m a hard-charging American and I’ve had to fight every step of my career for this ride.”

That was the story that should have been told in 2012, when Hunter-Reay, who had been out of work six years earlier, reeled off three consecutive wins to climb into the championship race. Then, facing elimination, he won again to send his title fight with Will Power into the finale, where Hunter-Reay walked away with his first championship.

It was a career year and came a season after one of the lowest points of his career: He failed to qualify for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 and Andretti Autosport had to buy a seat from A.J. Foyt to get Hunter-Reay into the race.

But IndyCar management was too busy planning the ouster of CEO Randy Bernard to focus on Hunter-Reay, and when Bernard was cut loose a month after the championship, the driver was completely forgotten.

“Yeah, I was overlooked in 2012. The series wanted an American champion and we had one,” he said. “Randy was moving out and the search for a new CEO was on, and I don’t really think that’s big news or anything, but it definitely took precedence.

“This win, I hope it does breakthrough. I’ll be a great and honest champion. I’ll fly the flag for our sport and you’ll always get the real deal with me.”

A casting director could not have chosen a more perfect fit for the role with IndyCar. Hunter-Reay and wife Beccy Gordon, younger sister of American stalwart driver Robby Gordon, could be mistaken for Ken and Barbie. Their towheaded toddler Ryden, wearing a miniature firesuit to match his father’s, has been the star of the victory celebrations. He looked on quizzically while his parents kissed the bricks after the win, then ran up and down the race track — toy cars in hand — Monday as his father posed for photos.

When he needed to be entertained, Ryden played with the faces on the Borg-Warner trophy.

One of the perks the Hunter-Reays will receive for his victory is a replica of the pace car, a black 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.

Hunter-Reay’s first car? A black Camaro, of course.

“I’m really looking forward to getting that back home. It’s a car that I’ll definitely use — that thing sounded mean,” he said. “That’s the great thing about this race. You win the race, and then you start thinking about all the things that come with it. I get my face on the trophy. And the pace car, and the check that comes with it. I was presented with an Indianapolis 500 1911 pistol. How cool is that? How American is that?

“And I got a huge belt buckle, so I need a holster with my belt buckle and I’ll be strutting around the garages with that.”

Hunter-Reay is game for playing the role IndyCar wants and needs. He draped himself in the American flag, noted the significance of winning on Memorial Day weekend, and spoke repeatedly about his national pride.

What he failed to mention is that Sunday’s victory moved him to the top of the IndyCar points standings. And he didn’t brag about one of his daredevil passes for the lead, the one in which he nearly drove into the grass.

The irony, of course, is that just a month ago Hunter-Reay was criticized for an aggressive move at Long Beach that backfired and wrecked several race cars.

If Hunter-Reay has his way, those moves will work every time and his legacy as a tough, hard, American racer will be cemented.

“I am aggressive and will always go for it. When I was growing up, I really loved the drivers that were like that,” he said. “I’m married to Beccy, I was a big fan of Robby. He was always the guy that you wanted to watch. He was coming through, one way or the other. He might not finish, but he’s coming through.

“We’ve got a championship to go win this year, for sure. I’ll probably still go 110 percent and be aggressive and I’m not going to let up in any way.”

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Solano College trustees move back ‘home’

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Needs of small dog give Solano man life’s mission

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
Christmas comes early for prenatal program participants

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Police chief: Suisun crime up 3 percent in 2014

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Council OKs $65,730 pact to advocate for Travis base

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Fairfield pays $42,500 to settle soil suit

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Jury convicts teen for role in 2012 DeBartolo’s heist

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Suisun City police log: Dec. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Fairfield police log: Dec. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
.

US / World

 
Fears fanned by hackers bring down Sony film

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Like Iran, secret diplomacy leads to US-Cuba thaw

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Pope played crucial role in US-Cuba rapprochement

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy and travel firms

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Cubans cheer historic renewal of US relations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Freed American endured years of declining health

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Bay Bridge light sculpture to keep on shining

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

Study: Huge wildfire supports need for controlled burns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
A fresh setback for efforts to cure HIV infection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Nigerian court sentences 54 soldiers to death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Colombian rebels announce unilateral cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Russians flock to stores to pre-empt price rises

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Pakistan buries victims of school massacre

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

.

Opinion

Asia needs to prepare for a possible China crash

By William Pesek | From Page: A7

 
Editorial Cartoons: Dec. 18, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crime Witness Protocol 101

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 8 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
My siblings don’t want to replace abusive mother’s pacemaker

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

25 movies chosen for the National Film Registry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Saving Private Ryan’ among films being preserved

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
.

Sports

Falcons cruise by crushers in girls basketball

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
49ers release McDonald amid further legal trouble

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Carr faces another tough test in rookie season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
For MLB, changes in Cuba will take time to sort out

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Garcia resigns as FIFA prosecutor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Chattanooga women stun No. 7 Stanford 54-46

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Track coach Drummond gets 8-year doping suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warriors’ Bogut out with knee injury vs. Thunder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP source: Romo close to $15M, 2-year deal with Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Baseball monitoring White House Cuba decision

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

APNewsBreak: Judge rejects NCAA concussions deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Painkillers lawsuit against NFL dismissed; may be appealed

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

McDonald’s in Japan limits orders of fries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Amid scrutiny, Uber says it will focus more on safety

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Health care exchange sign-ups exceeding last year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Fed to be ‘patient’ about a rate hike; stocks soar

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Jennie Ponce Reyes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Marian L. “Chicki” Downs

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9