Ryan Hunter-Reay was left frustrated at what he feels were missed opportunities in the IndyCar Mid-Ohio double-header thanks to pitstop strategy and questionable track ethics from Scott Dixon.
The 2012 IndyCar champion started Saturday’s first race from the front row, but was demoted to third at the start by Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.
Hunter-Reay was relegated to fifth at the final pit stops, when he was beaten by team-mate Alexander Rossi who had stopped a lap earlier, and by Graham Rahal who stopped two laps later.
In the second race, Hunter-Reay attempted to pass Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda around the outside at Turn 4 on lap 20, for what would have been second place once the off-strategy cars had pitted.
Instead, Hunter-Reay found himself knocked toward the grass on the outside of the turn, and the subsequent loss of momentum allowed Rossi to slip through into second.
Facing an evenly-matched car and similar tyre strategy for the remainder of the 75-lap race, Hunter-Reay could find no gap in Rossi’s armour and finished third, and 2.5s behind winner Colton Herta.
“It’s a good day for Andretti Autosport, finishing 1-2-3,” said Hunter-Reay whose last win came at Sonoma in 2018.
“It’s been a pretty rocky season for the team overall, so it was nice to get that in.
“For me, just missed opportunities kind of all weekend… We had good pace, just feel like we could have finished up a few more spots every day.
“But all in all, I ran a good race today. I was running hard with Dixon there, got hip-checked off the track.
“That’s when Rossi got by me, and we finished in line from there.”
He said the frustration started in qualifying on Saturday, when being fastest in the only practice session gave him the choice of his qualifying group running first or second.
Assuming the track would be faster as more rubber went down, Hunter-Reay decided his group would run second, but Will Power’s time for Group 1 actually proved faster.
The groups then swapped order for Sunday’s morning’s qualifying session, which meant Hunter-Reay’s group went out first and therefore got the worst of the wet-but-drying track, and leaving him only eighth on the grid while Herta took pole.
“I think we were actually really good in qualifying this weekend,” Hunter-Reay said.
“The #28 has been the highest qualifying car of the year so far.
“It’s just we haven’t been able to put it together for one reason or another.
“But being fastest in practice Saturday morning, we picked our group, and it ended up being the wrong pick.
“Obviously that [also] dictated pole today, being that the group that was on pole was Colton’s group, on a drying racetrack.
“[It was] just the wrong call, we couldn’t foresee that coming.
“On these shortened double race weekends, [we miss] the extended practice time we would usually have to get ready for qualifying, and it all comes down to that at some of these tracks where it’s very track position related.”