Despite finding himself in the wall at turn ten during morning warm-up and almost losing a lap early on at St. Petersburg on Sunday, Ryan Hunter-Reay recovered superbly, and grabbed fourth place at the line from Andretti Autosport team-mate Takuma Sato.
The former Verizon IndyCar Series champion found himself in the wall on Sunday morning after braking issues on his #28 machine, and Hunter-Reay hit pit lane just as the green flag flew due to engine issues.
But Hunter-Reay was able to stay on the lead lap and then drove strongly to move into contention for a top five result, before his late pass on Sato for fourth.
“It was a wild weekend,” said Hunter-Reay. “From the ups and downs of braking issues in second practice and then warm-up this morning, we definitely earned this one.
“We fixed engine calibration issues early on (in the race), got out in front of the pace car by about a second or two keeping us on the lead lap. To finish today fourth was just awesome.
“This No. 28 DHL Honda team has done a great job all day. To fight back like that, I had to keep coming spot after spot really earning it, then there at the end I got that spot back from my team-mate Sato.”
Hunter-Reay was happy to have such a strong car during the 110-lap race at St. Petersburg, and now is hoping that his Honda-powered car can challenge for podium finishes going forward.
“We had a lot of fun out there driving every last drop out of the car, and it’s great to be back in the role and into the swing of things,” said Hunter-Reay. “Hopefully we can get the DHL Honda team back on the podium where we belong, but a fourth-place finish is a good start.
“This whole team has done a great job; Andretti Autosport has been working hard. We had some great pace, showed good promise and I’m looking forward to the next race.”