Ryan Hunter-Reay has a dilemma to ponder. A winner last year at Detroit and again at the season finale in Sonoma, the Andretti Autosport veteran is chasing his first victory of 2019 for DHL and all of the loyal sponsors who support his No. 28 Honda.
Holding seventh in the standings, Hunter-Reay isn’t part of the group chasing the championship in Monterey, but his close friend and teammate Alexander Rossi is needing some help to knock Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden off the top of the points during Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix.
Thus, his quandary: Should he focus his effort on helping Rossi — and therefore his team — to try and overtake Newgarden in the championship, which won’t be easy due to the size of the Penske driver’s lead? Or concentrate on giving his sponsors the best send-off possible if victory is in sight?
“We just need to win the race,” the 2012 IndyCar champion told RACER. “If we’re in a position where we can take points away from others, where we can help Rossi, obviously we’re going to do that.”
Barring a freak development where Newgarden falls out of the race early, Rossi needs to win to have a chance at earning the championship. A second-place result, in most scenarios, won’t get the job done. One can only wonder what the situation will look like if Hunter-Reay finds himself leading late in the 90-lap event with Rossi on his heels.
“We just have to focus on winning,” he reiterated. “We need a win this year. Last year, we went pole to checkers at Sonoma. I’m missing Sonoma, but it’s great to be back at Laguna, and I’d love to win here, too.”