FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Ryan Hunter-Reay was on the edge of his seat when he finally got a chance to watch a replay of the closing laps of his Indianapolis 500 victory, just like he was in the cockpit when making a bold, grass-clipping inside move past Helio Castroneves.
“It was ridiculously close to watch it from TV,” Hunter-Reay said Wednesday. “I felt more in control of it in the car, so I can see why everybody’s like that’s dodgy.”
Even though that wasn’t the winning pass, and Hunter-Reay had to get around Castroneves again before taking the checkered flag, the daredevil move provided quite a highlight that has been widely applauded.
“That’s my personality, that’s my style,” he said. “It’s my driving style. I always go for it, 100 percent.”
When Hunter-Reay made a similar move six weeks earlier at Long Beach, he triggered a seven-car accident 24 laps from the finish that also took out his Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe. Hunter-Reay was the pole-sitter in that race and led 51 laps before trying to pass a car just out of the pits.
There was obviously a much different result at Indianapolis.
“It’s the important race, and think about if that had gone wrong … there’s that fine line right between hero and zero, it would have been the zero move, but it ended up being the hero move,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s cool to see it all work out and the aggression was all paid off.”
Hunter-Reay made the last stop on his post-Indy 500 victory tour Wednesday in Texas, at a lunch with Texas Motor Speedway sponsors and season ticket holders. He was led to the patio at Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican restaurant by a mariachi band.
At the conclusion of the lunch program, TMS officials shared a milk toast with Hunter-Reay. And, unlike in Victory Lane after the race, his young son Ryden took a sip of milk this time.
His next stop was Detroit, where the IndyCar Series runs dual races this weekend before heading to Texas next week. At the 1 ½-mile high-banked, high-speed Texas track last summer, Dallas-born Hunter-Reay finished second to Castroneves.
Hunter-Reay said he “definitely, desperately” wants to win at Texas and take part in the victory celebration that includes firing six-shooters into the air.
“There’s no victory celebration quite like that. After finishing second to Helio, climbing out of the car and walking back to the transporter a bit dejected, you hear those pistols go off. It’s like salt to the wound,” he said. “That’s the next most important on my list.”
When TMS officials presented him the victory pistols for a trial run, Hunter-Reay joked about the perks of being the Indy 500 champion. He also had to be persuaded to give them a try.
“Is that like drinking the milk before winning the Indy 500, because I’d never do that,” he said. “I hope I’m not jinxing myself.”