Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Andretti Prediction In Baltimore Becomes Reality For Hunter-Reay In Fontana

After surviving a Lap 55 near miss take out by Will Power's out of control #12 Penske Racing DW12, Ryan Hunter-Reay puts in a steady 250 Lap drive in the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships at Auto Club Speedway to win it all, run the table, and take home all of the chips. Welcome the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Champion, the A.J. Foyt Trophy honoree for most points scored in a season on oval courses, and first American born driver to become American open wheel racing champion since 2006. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

Andretti Prediction In Baltimore Becomes Reality For Hunter-Reay In Fontana

With 36 points separating Ryan Hunter-Reay (RHR) from the championship points lead and two races to go left in the season, the Andretti Autosport driver wins on the temporary street circuit race promoted by the recently formed Andretti Sports Marketing ... the Indy Grand Prix of Baltimore. This left RHR with a tall, but not impossible mountain to scale of 17 points to overcome in order to clinch the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship.

Immediately after Ryan crossed the finish line at the inner harbor track location, in a post race interview on NBCSC, team owner Michael Andretti came out with a strong prediction - "We are going to win the championship in Fontana at Auto Club Speedway."

This isn't the first time this motor culture legend, in his own time, came forth with a prediction that paid off - and Michael Andretti never was the kind of personality to boast.

Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport becomes the first American born driver to win a race in this 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2010)

This excerpted and edited from "... notes from The EDJE" -

Toyota GP of Long Beach: Owner Andretti Predicted Hunter-Reay Win
By Edmund Jenks - April 19, 2010

With the confidence that comes from being a multiple time race winner here at motorsports premiere temporary street course race at Long Beach, Michael Andretti predicted that his recently signed driver (a test for a few races to begin), Ryan Hunter-Reay, would win the race.

What makes this prediction almost astounding is that none of the cars had set a tire anywhere on Shoreline Drive and he made this prediction at a post induction ceremony interview on Thursday, April 15, 2010, where he, along with Danny Sullivan, were honored with an achievement medallion in the sidewalk along the Long Beach Motorsports Walk Of Fame located in front, and the West side, of the Long beach Convention Center along Pine Avenue.
Add the fact that in the post race interview in front of the gathered press, Ryan Hunter-Reay cited his previous Formula Atlantic (2002) and CCWS experience with his positive feelings for the track (which he considers his "home" track) at Long Beach ... one could say Champ Car has never left ... in this, the sophomore year for IndyCar at the famed streets in Long Beach ... for at the end of the race it was P1, P2 , and P3 on the podium for former ChampCar World series experienced drivers!
[Reference Here]

The set up seemed insurmountable. Penske Racing's Will Power, who had been here in this same position of having to finish off the year on an oval racing course ahead of his next leading points owner the previous two years, looked as though all he had to do was finish the race on the same lap as Ryan Hunter-Reay. He had all the confidence of being the only driver to ever hold the Mario Andretti Trophy for the most points scored on road/street courses ... three years running.

For Ryan's part, in order to have any chance at all, he needed to finish the race P6 or better to have any of the championship scenarios to play out. Further, RHR was tied in the points for the season championship trophy for most points scored on oval courses with KV Racing Technology's  Tony Kanaan ... so he also had to finish ahead of this competitor as well.

Again, the prediction by Michael Andretti, that his driver would win the IICS Championship at this final race, when the new DW12 chassis had never competed at this track and that no American open wheel races had been run at Auto Club Speedway since 2005 seemed astounding being that it came directly after the Baltimore win.

Andretti Autosport racing team came to the Auto Club Speedway track loaded for bear. In qualifications, the DW12's go out for three laps with the final two laps (5 miles) total time used for formation to the grid (baring any penalty for engine changes - later). Michael's son and third generation racing Andretti, Marco bested the next closest competitor, Penske' Ryan Briscoe, to gain the championship point and the check by .2614 of a second. Hunter-Reay did not do so well. His time combined with the fact that most all of the top competitors changed to fresh engines for the 500 mile race, had him starting at the back of the grid at P22 with Will Power at P13.

The pre-race odds for the top five drivers to win the race were published (in the newsroom) as follows - Will Power - 2/1, Ryan Hunter-Reay 5/2, Scott Dixon 7/2, Ryan Briscoe 5/1, and Dario Franchitti at 6/1 odds.

All Will had to do was basically stay on the same lap and dog/stalk RHR around the track, have clean pit stops, and finish the race. The start of the race saw Will Power struggle with the handling of his car and eventually, Ryan and Will were running with each other. After about a fifth (of the laps in the race ... not the bottle), Will Power responded to calls from his team over the radio in his ear to pass RHR. On Lap 55 in turn #2, Will dropped down low and according to his view, caught a seam in the pavement that got his car loose and he spun up into the safer barrier wall, just missing the #28 of Ryan Hunter-Reay - WOW!

Ryan Hunter-Reay pulls into pit box #25, takes off his helmet and is first greeted by a member of his team ... believe it Ryan, you are the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Champion! Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

This excerpted and edited from IndyCar - 

Drama, intrigue, excitement: Hunter-Reay grabs title

For the third consecutive year, contact in the season finale altered the title aspirations of the Aussie. The No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car "caught a seam" in Turn 2 of the 2-mile oval, spun and made contact with the SAFER Barrier while running 12th -- a few car lengths ahead of Hunter-Reay's No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car.
Click it: Box score | Hunter-Reay signs two-year extension

Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti relayed to a surprised Hunter-Reay, who 18 hours signed a two-year contract extension, that he had to finish sixth to claim his first series championship by one point.

But wait. In this season of surprises, ultra-tight competition and high drama, all three collectively focused on the Team Penske garage as the crew converged to repair the Dallara chassis and collect 11 more laps to finish 24th and ahead of the retired car of E.J. Viso.

That's exactly what transpired, forcing Hunter-Reay to finish at least fifth. Crews from rival teams cheered as the No. 12 entry was wheeled onto pit lane.

"It's fantastic," said Power, who quickly changed back into his firesuit.

But as Power maintained throughout this three-race duel with Hunter-Reay, "You can on focus on what you can control." So he watched the remainder of the race unfold from the team transporter, hoping that others would occupy the top five positions.

That went by the wayside as Alex Tagliani's engine expired with 20 laps left and then Tony Kanaan's car made contact with the Turn 4 SAFER Barrier on Lap 241. That created a red flag, with the restart on Lap 244. 

Hunter-Reay was running third on the restart, lost two positions, but the 31-year-old Floridian regained one spot when Takuma Sato's car crashed on the final lap. The difference in over 15 events on the most diverse set of racetracks in motorsports was three points over Power.
[Reference Here]

Driving legend, team owner, sports marketing operations magnet, and excellent prognosticator, Michael Andretti as he congratulates Ed Carpenter on his first win as a driver/owner of the Fuzzy's Vodka #20 DW12 Chevy-powered Dallara at the post race press conference at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)

At the post race press conference, Michael was reminded about this penchant he seems to have to predict and then deliver on the prediction. Michael bristled at the suggestion that he might like to take this 'talent' to Las Vegas with the attitude of a person who never gambles and frowns upon it.

This is a funny reaction to attribute to a past open wheel driving legend who would gamble on the track and, for the most part, win (or as on that 1998 Mid-Ohio day when he flipped head long into the run off at the end of the straight) or survive! Now, as an owner, expands his operation through the formation of Andretti Sports Marketing to include promoting the Milwaukee Mile (which his driver won) and picking up the Grand Prix of Baltimore (oh yes, that's right, his driver won the race the team Andretti operation was promoting for the first time this year as well).

All anyone can know, with this kind of track record, if one hears Michael Andretti blurt out a prediction of an outcome, and the Andretti Autosport operation has a hand in controlling some of the variables ... TAKE THAT BET ... the odds are good for a Michael Andretti predicted outcome!

... notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as Andretti Prediction In Baltimore Becomes Reality For Hunter-Reay In Fontana on Technorati **

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