There will be no trace of sadness or regret when Ryan Hunter-Reay suits up to drive Andretti Autosport’s No.28 DHL Honda for the final time on Sunday.
“I’m all smiles, absolutely,” he said. “Racing at one of my favorite racetracks in an IndyCar. You can either go through it with a big smile on your face, or you can just be mad and kick the can all the time. That’s how I’ve always been: enjoy it, go forward with a positive attitude, and that’s what I’m doing for sure.
“I’ll be 41 in December. I still feel like I’ve got race wins in me. Just (find) the right opportunity and the right situation, and we’ll see where that leads.”
Friday morning brought the long-expected confirmation that Romain Grosjean will take Hunter-Reay’s place in the No.28 Honda next season. Hunter-Reay stated he’s known since last year that 2021 would be the final chapter to his long association with Andretti Autosport, and while he’s comfortable with the prospect of change, he admits that there will still be a process of adaptation to a post-Andretti life.
“I’ve been with this team for 12 years,” he said. “I have been with the same engineer longer than I’ve been married, and I’ve got three kids, so go figure that one out. Definitely been here a long time.
“In sports, in business, anything like that, everything evolves, it always does. Change is inevitable, and it’s a good thing, usually. I think it’s definitely a good time to shake things up. I wish Andretti Autosport, Romain and DHL the best. I’m looking forward to that next chapter, and the challenges that lie ahead.”
Going into this weekend, Ryan Hunter-Reay has won 15 times with Andretti, the first of those coming in 2010 at the track where his time with the team will end. That 2010 Long Beach race proved to be the springboard to a partnership that delivered the 2012 drivers’ championship and the 2014 Indy 500 win.
(The 2010 race) was make-or-break time, for sure,” he said. “We came out at Sao Paulo and finished second. At this race, we won. It was huge. Our sponsor at that time was IZOD. They were on for three races. We got the call that week that we’re going to a full season, and we haven’t looked back since. We won the team’s only championship in 16 years. Now, we’re sitting here talking about that next chapter.”