Interview: Ryan Hunter-Reay on Honda’s IndyCar future and new Boston course

Ryan Hunter-Reay returns to the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport in the 2016 IndyCar season.

Ryan Hunter-Reay has had a busy offseason from the Verizon IndyCar Series. He competed in the international Nations Cup and Race of Champions, led the Tournament of Roses Parade, and just finished a third-place drive in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. But now Hunter-Reay is focused on winning for Andretti Autosport, and he spoke at league media day on Feb. 2 about what’s ahead.

“It’s great to get the season going. Just coming back from the Daytona 24-hour [race], seems like we’re hitting our stride now. Tested yesterday in Sebring, testing again next week,” he told media members including IndyCar Examiner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “It’s good to be back to work and being busy. I didn’t know what I was doing with myself for the last few months!”

As possibly the most prominent driver for Honda, Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 will be one of the cars that fans look toward next month to see if the manufacturer has been able to make any improvements to its aero kit, and he addressed that issue on Tuesday. “We’ve been working hard with Honda trying to make some gains,” he said. “We’re staying with the same aero package as we had here last year.

“Obviously last year we didn’t, as a whole, as a group, perform to where we wanted to. Hopefully we can improve on that. We’ll see. We’re waiting on a few things here and there,” Hunter-Reay continued. “I’m looking forward to my first superspeedway test to see where we stand compared to our competition. Certainly last year, Chevy had the upper hand on us, kicked us in the teeth, but we’ll come back fighting.”

“I have a phenomenal relationship with Honda,” he explained. “They’ve done so much for me in my career. But [in] the sport itself, they really have been the backbone. Through all the years when I first came into the Indy Racing League in 2007 through 2011, when competition did come in, Honda stayed true and continued to fight and win races.

“I’m thrilled that I have an Indy 500 win with them; now I want to go get a championship with them.”

Hunter-Reay has also had a chance to tour the course for the upcoming Grand Prix of Boston, and shared Simon Pagenaud’s positive thoughts of the new racetrack.

“Boston [is] the perfect market to be in. The track is amazing,” he commented. “I can’t figure out how somebody puts on a street race because there’s so much logistically that has to go into it. When you see the site undeveloped, roads, city streets, you see where the tunnel is going to be, it’s amazing that you can even pull something like that off.

“[There’s] huge potential. The site and where I saw it, how it’s going to be, the plans for it, massive potential. I hope it’s one of our cornerstone events.”

“The three adds that we did have were just fantastic – Boston, Road America and Phoenix,” Hunter-Reay added. “Couldn’t have asked for a better addition to the IndyCar schedule.”

Of course, the one downside to being a superstar IndyCar driver is time away from loved ones, especially now that the 2016 season has been extended by several weeks. Hunter-Reay is just hoping that while he’s setting career milestones he doesn’t miss a family one. “My youngest is getting ready to walk,” he related, quipping, “I keep telling [his wife] Beccy to knock him down until I get home. I get home tomorrow night. Hopefully he can hold off until then. I missed [his son] Ryden’s first steps, so hopefully I don’t miss this one!”

For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.

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