Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Hunter-Reay takes prize in New Hampshire
2. Inside the numbers – New Hampshire
3. Dixon takes over lead
1. Hunter-Reay turns season around in New Hampshire: Maybe Ryan Hunter-Reay was expecting a silver cup or a glass bowl?
During the Victory Lane ceremonies for the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 on Aug. 14, New Hampshire Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Gappens presented the race winner with “Loudon” – a giant New England lobster. It required both hands of the surprised Andretti Autosport driver to display the crustacean.
“It caught me off-guard,” said Hunter-Reay, an avid sport fisherman who resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “The thing is looking at me as I’m holding it. He was huge. I didn’t know they got that big. Hopefully, they put it back in the water or something.”
“Loudon” was a bonus; Hunter-Reay received a more traditional trophy for winning the first Indy car race at the mile oval in 13 years. It was his first of the season and first on an oval in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and it mitigates some of the sting from a lost first half of the season in which he posted one top-10 finish in eight races, and being placed on probation by the sanctioning body for avoidable contact at Barber Motorsports Park in April and at Toronto in July.
In the past five races, however, he’s on a roll with three podium finishes and top 10s in the other two (two ovals, three road/street circuits). Hunter-Reay advanced five positions to eighth in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings with the controversial victory on the 1.025-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway oval.
Hunter-Reay inherited the lead when Takuma Sato pitted for fuel on Lap 190. Sporadic sprinkles forced two caution periods, with the latter coming with 19 laps remaining in the race. Race officials determined the racing surface was dry enough to have a green flag finish, but the Lap 217 went awry when five cars slid and made light contact exiting Turn 4. After a red flag on Lap 220, officials reverted to the race order that existed before the final restart.
“I knew we had a good car this weekend and in practice we’d been making the car better and better,” said Hunter-Reay, who drives the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda entry. “The crew has done such a good job. We have great chemistry on this team and it’s a great result. This one is for them. I wish that it was different, but we’ll take it after the year that we’ve had.”
2. Inside the numbers – New Hampshire: Some numbers to note from the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the 12th event of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
4: Finishing position of rookie James Hinchcliffe, matching his career-best performance in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
5: Wins in Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Indy car career after his win at New Hampshire. It was his fifth consecutive top-10 finish.
6: Straight races led by Dario Franchitti after he led 115 of 215 laps at New Hampshire. Franchitti has led 739 laps this season.
7: Cars running on the lead lap at the end of the race. Fewest cars on the lead lap this season.
9: Finishing position of rookie Charlie Kimball, his best finish in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
14: Positions gained by Ed Carpenter, the most in the 26-car field. Carpenter finished 11th in the No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing car, matching his season-best finish.
39: Wins in the IZOD IndyCar Series for Andretti Autosport.
44: Races that Dario Franchitti had finished since his last DNF. Franchitti’s last DNF before New Hampshire was at Kansas in April 2009.
46: Straight races for Danica Patrick without a DNF, extending her IZOD IndyCar Series record.
47: Points lead for Franchitti after New Hampshire. Franchitti lead Power by 62 entering the event.
63: Podium finishes by Scott Dixon, which is 14th on the all-time list.
144: Consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series starts for Tony Kanaan, an IZOD IndyCar Series record.
200: Starts for Team Penske by Helio Castroneves. He finished 17th.
3. Dixon takes over lead: Scott Dixon’s third-place finish, coupled with Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti’s 20th place, gave Dixon the lead in the A.J. Foyt Oval Trophy standings by 17 points. Will Power of Team Penske is third.
Franchitti leads the Mario Andretti Road Trophy standings by 28 points over Power heading to Infineon Raceway for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 28.
There are three road/street course (Infineon, Baltimore, Twin Ring Motegi) and two oval (Kentucky, Las Vegas) races remaining in the season.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 28 at Infineon Raceway. The race will be televised live at 4 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is Baltimore 100 on Sept. 4 at the Streets of Baltimore. VERSUS’ coverage of the Grand Prix de Trois Rivieres will air at 4 p.m. on Aug. 17.