Indy 500 winner Hunter-Reay looks to bounce back
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By GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Ryan Hunter-Reay caught up on sleep and sent links to funny videos to teammate James Hinchcliffe. He was even thinking about catching a movie while waiting out the rain Wednesday at the Milwaukee Mile.
Hunter-Reay's life has slowed down just a tad since winning the Indianapolis 500 a few weeks ago. He wouldn't mind bouncing back from three disappointing finishes since his milestone victory.
A 19th-place finish last weekend at Texas. Finishes of 16th and 19th the previous week in dual races in Detroit.
"Absolutely, a tough run but we've had more difficult times, that's for sure," Hunter-Reay said.
He has followed a breakneck pace since the highlight-reel finish at Indy on Memorial Day weekend, the first American to win the race in eight years. The media spotlight has been intense, though he'll gladly take the attention that comes with victory.
There is a break in the race schedule until dual races in Houston on June 28-29, though testing is ongoing. Hunter-Reay is third in points among drivers behind first-place Will Power and Helio Castroneves.
"At Texas we had a Honda issue there, just like teammate Marco (Andretti) did. Nothing to do about that," Hunter-Reay said.
A fuel fire in the engine compartment hurt his effort in one race at Detroit.
"And then in the first race, last lap, just lost the rear of the car and got into the tire barrier. Lost six or seven points at the end of the race there. So all in all, it's been a pretty tough run since the 500," he said. "The thing is we know why, so as long as you know why, then you can adjust and move on from that."
Hunter-Reay, though, doesn't think that either he or the Andretti Autosport team is any more of a target since winning at Indianapolis.
"I think since we won the championship in 2012 the target's been there," he said.
Any added stress was likely washed away by the rain that fell Wednesday on the 1-mile oval just outside Milwaukee. Hunter-Reay should feel very comfortable here after winning Milwaukee the last two years.
Expectations can skyrocket after winning Indy "even if it's unjustified," Hinchcliffe said. "I pulled him aside at one point and said, `Hey look man, we've all had weekends like this, and 99.9 percent of the time, it wasn't the week after we won the Indy 500."
Hinchcliffe expects his teammate will be just fine in the end -- after he moves on from sending those URLs to Hinchcliffe and fellow teammate Marco Andretti. Bending forward at the waist in laughter, Hinchcliffe said most of the links were "fairly inappropriate" to share, though one involved a scene from the movie "Back to the Future 3."
"I don't know how he finds it," said Hinchcliffe. "Marco and I are genuinely worried about him. He's got a problem, but it's a funny problem."
Andretti Sports Marketing operates the Milwaukee race, which will be sponsored by ABC Supply Co. through 2015. The race used to fall in June, but has been pushed back to Aug. 17, the weekend following the end of the Wisconsin State Fair at State Fair Park. Promoters plan to sell tickets at the fair, which has drawn more than 900,000 people each of the last three years. "Having it on the tail-end of the fair could bring a lot of extra attention to the race, and ultimately that's what we're her to do," Hinchcliffe said.
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Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
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