#28 DHL/Sun Drop Dallara-Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport
Born: December 17, 1980
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
2011 HIGHLIGHTS: Hunter-Reay took a controversial victory at Loudon after inheriting the lead from Dario Franchitti, holding it for 71 laps, and surviving the rain-marred restart that was eventually annulled. From Iowa to the end of the season, Hunter-Reay only finished outside of the top 10 once, making him one of the hottest drivers in the second half of the year.
2011 LOWLIGHTS: For much of the early part of the season, Hunter-Reay and his team couldn’t get anything together. Rock bottom came at Indianapolis, when teammate Marco Andretti bumped him from the race in the last qualifying attempt of the month. Hunter-Reay then had to buy out Bruno Junqueira’s May-only ride with A.J. Foyt Enterprises to compete in the race and finish a dismal 23rd.
SEASON OUTLOOK: Hunter-Reay initially struggled to adjust to a Tony Kanaan-less Andretti Autosport, but a strong second half of the year brought him back to seventh place in points. Now without Danica Patrick, Hunter-Reay and teammate Marco Andretti will be the undisputed leaders of the organization. One of Hunter-Reay’s biggest issues during his tough times last season was a lack of discipline, both on track and with the media; that will have to fade away in 2012, especially as his contract expires at the end of the season.
But there’s a reason why Hunter-Reay is the only driver to ever win a race in CART, Champ Car, and IndyCar: he’s one of the top talents in the sport. He’s posted strong finishes at just about every track on the schedule, and as one of the top Chevrolet drivers not employed by Roger Penske, he represents one of the brand’s best hopes to score race victories in 2012. He might not crack the top five in points, but the top 10 is certainly attainable.
- Chris Leone