He was named rookie of the year for the 2007 IRL season. Ryan is also in the running to be the Rookie of the Year for the 2008 Indy 500.
The 92nd Indianapolis 500 marks the biggest race of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s career to date. Ryan began racing for Team Ethanol last year, making his IndyCar Series debut at Mid-Ohio. That means his rookie run was seven races after last year’s Indy 500 event.
Nonetheless, Ryan set a new record when he became the 2007 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year with the fewest racing starts. The Team Ethanol driver is also in the running to be the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year since this is his first time competing at the world’s largest racing event.
Ryan spoke to members of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council Saturday evening. He told members he was honored not only to compete for Team Ethanol, but to represent ethanol in the public eye.
Ryan says he is looking to give Team Ethanol its best ever Indy 500 finish. Having spent the past month at the track, Ryan says he’s definitely comfortable going into today’s race. Though, he says, driving the 2.5 mile oval at Indy does take some getting used to, especially when going around turn one at 233 mph: “You have to have trust in the car. That’s the hardest part. And when they crash it hurts bad, you know?” Ryan was referring to his crash during Indy 500 qualifying earlier this month.
But, he was quick to point out that when the car’s dialed in and everything is running smoothly, “It actually does feel like you’re flying low… it’s amazing those cars can do that really. Cause you don’t believe in it. Until you’re actually in the corner with 4 Gs loaded up and you get out of it.”
Ryan applauded the Team Ethanol strategy and pointed out that his pit crew has proven to be a great crew for making the car better during a race at the pit stops.
He says the biggest competitors out on the track for this year’s Indy 500 are the Ganassi cars, but he insists that he can run with the best of them. He reminded members that, after some quick fixes to the Team Ethanol car mid-race, he was the fastest car out on the track at Milwaukee.
Ryan outlined the benefits of burning ethanol on the track, like better gas mileage, smaller fuel tanks, faster speeds and improved torque. He explained that he got his start in racing through karting, which is a hobby he says he still loves.
You can listen to Ryan’s speech to EPIC members here: