With speed in hand, Hunter-Reay happy with Mid-Ohio podium

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LEXINGTON, Ohio — Aside from those watching last weekend’s Honda Indy 200 on television, no one had a better seat for the wild conclusion than one-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.

In third place, Hunter-Reay trailed Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and rookie Felix Rosenqvist as they hotly contested the final lap at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner waiting to pounce should something dramatic happen to them.

Dixon and Rosenqvist got together briefly in Turn 2 on the final lap and just behind them was similar contact between Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden.

“I mean, it was a mess up there in front of me,” Hunter-Reay said. “I was just biding my time … I saw (Dixon and Rosenqvist) get closer and closer and I started getting pretty excited about the chances of going to battle with them the last few laps.”

Hunter-Reay couldn’t explain the contact he had with Newgarden, the series points leader.

“I don’t know what he was thinking,” he said of the Team Penske driver. “He just went for a pass on the outside and tried to do the over-under, but the line there as you come back, you do a diamond and he just stuck his nose in there. I don’t know.”

Hunter-Reay had started 10th in the No. 28 DHL Honda of Andretti Autosport, and the three-stop strategy he executed nearly produced his first race win since last year’s season-ender at Sonoma Raceway. Instead, Hunter-Reay scored his first podium finish since the race at Circuit of The Americas in March and his first podium finish at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course since 2011.

Hunter-Reay felt good about the finish.

“I feel like we’re back to where we should be,” he said. “We’ve had speed. You look at Road America, we had speed. We had speed at plenty of the races. We finished fourth and fifth at Detroit, just missed podiums there. We were just missing a little something.”

The next race is the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, a venue where Hunter-Reay won in 2015 and finished third in 2016.

“We’ve always been quick there when we can finish,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of DNFs there and other deals so yeah, feel pretty good about it.”

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