The Herald Bulletin

April 15, 2014

Ken de la Bastide: Hunter-Reay's blunder proves costly

By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin

---- — A lack of patience cost Ryan Hunter-Reay and teammate James Hinchcliffe a chance at victory last weekend in the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Long Beach.

Hunter-Reay was turning in a dominant performance at Long Beach when he decided to make a risky pass of Josef Newgarden on lap 54.

Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe and Newgarden were running in the top three when a round of pit stops began. Newgarden the last to pit returned to the action in the lead, but on cold tires he was a sitting duck for Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe.

Instead of waiting for a better opportunity to take the leader Hunter-Reay attempted to pass Newgarden in a tight corner. The end result was Newgarden, Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe all got collected along with Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato.

Team owner Michael Andretti could only put his head in his hands as he watched two of his drivers, Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe, knocked from competition.

That gave the lead to Scott Dixon, who was low on fuel. When Dixon pitted with two laps remaining it brought Mike Conway his second consecutive victory at Long Beach.

Conway is driving the street and road course races for Ed Carpenter racing. Carpenter is going to drive on the ovals.

Will Power, looking to make it four wins in a row, finished second followed by rookie Carlos Munoz, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud.

The series is next in action on April 27 at the road course in Alabama before the running of the inaugural Indy Grand Prix on May 10 on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In other racing news: It was a great weekend for central Indiana drivers during the Must See Racing Southern Shootout for winged sprint cars.

Daleville’s Aaron Pierce captured the Friday night feature at Five Flags Speedway in Florida followed by Jimmy McCune and Brian Gerster.

Gerster, the Noblesville driver, captured the Saturday night feature at Mobile International Speedway in Alabama, taking the lead from JoJo Helberg with eight laps remaining.

McCune followed up his Friday showing with another runner-up finish and Troy DeCaire came home in third. Pierce finished ninth.

Anderson’s Jim Sheets finished sixth in the Mobile International Speedway event and 13th in Florida.

Kevin Harvick, in his first year of driving for the Stewart-Haas Racing Team, appears to be the first driver locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship at the end of the NASCAR season.

Harvick is the first driver in 2014 to record two victories at Phoenix and last weekend at Darlington. Since the Chase field is going to be made up predominately of race winners, Harvick’s two victories should have him contending for the title.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.