Friday, January 18, 2019

Measuring Hunter-Reay’s Blistering Detroit Pace

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Ryan Hunter-Reay’s win in the second race of this year’s Detroit doubleheader sent him to victory lane for the first time since 2015. His journey from 10th on the grid to the top step of the podium was made possible by a little strategy and a lot of speed.

The 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series champion had both the fastest leader lap and the fastest lap overall. Hunter-Reay turned a 1:15.6087 while leading the race on Lap 47 but posted an even faster time 12 laps later when he was chasing teammate Alexander Rossi.

At 1:15.0590, that 59th lap of the 2.35-mile Raceway at Belle Isle Park by Hunter-Reay on Sunday was nearly three-quarters of a second quicker than the second-fastest lap of the 70-lap race, set by Marco Andretti.

Hunter-Reay and his No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda displayed much of their advantage in a certain few of Belle Isle’s 14 distinct turns. Lap 59 saw Hunter-Reay set the fastest times through Turns 3, 4, 5, 7 and 13. Furthermore, Hunter-Reay set the quickest times of the race through the following sections during that lap:

  • SF to I3 (Start-finish line to exit of Turn 6)
  • I4 to I5 (Entrance of Turn 7 to middle of Turn 9)
  • I6 to I7 (Entrance of Turn 12 to exit of Turn 13)
  • I6 to SF (Entrance of Turn 12 to start-finish line)

Notably, Will Power was the second-fastest driver in the Turn-12-to-13 section, but was 1.199 mph away from matching Hunter-Reay’s ability. The American driver and eventual winner further proved his advantage late in a lap of Belle Isle as he was 1.552 mph faster than Power in the longer run from Turn 12 through the start-finish line on their respective best laps of Sunday’s race.

Not content to only be fastest when turning the steering wheel, Hunter-Reay also tripped the speed gun late in the circuit between Turns 13 and 14 at 128.864 mph on Lap 59, besting Scott Dixon’s best speed of 127.347 mph as well as Rossi’s at 127.205 mph.

The only section of the circuit where Lap 59 wasn’t the best overall for Hunter-Reay was between Turns 6 and 12 where Andretti was quicker on his 40th lap. Hunter-Reay, though, barreled through that section on his 60th lap to set the second-fastest section time of the race.

Hunter-Reay into third turn of Belle Isle IndyCar track
Ryan Hunter-Reay rolls into Turn 3 at Belle Isle. | Photo: Gannon Burgett / The Apex

Hunter-Reay’s victory was aided by lightning-fast pit stops, including a 6.3-second final stop on Lap 52 that was also the fastest trip from pit in to pit out during the race, taking just 24.3731 seconds. The brand-new, black-sidewalled primary Firestone tires Hunter-Reay’s crew fitted to his car during that stop lent him superb grip that helped him go faster than his 22 competitors a few laps later in the aforementioned sections.

While Hunter-Reay’s three-stop strategy allowed him to run hard, it was driver skill combined with a fast car that gave him the ability to achieve the pace he laid down on Lap 59. Applying heavy pressure on Rossi, he was able to force an error and move into the lead, swiping the victory.

Now fourth in the points standings, Hunter-Reay’s next challenge is the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway where he’ll race under the lights June 9 at 7:45 p.m. CDT.

Ben Hinc
Ben Hinchttp://www.benhinc.com
Ben Hinc, managing The Apex as executive editor, has frequented media centers at racetracks across North America since 2014. Hinc's multi-decade passion for technology has resulted in a broad skillset that keeps The Apex running fast and without error.

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