Ryan Hunter-Reay will return to IndyCar as the replacement for ousted Ed Carpenter Racing driver Conor Daly, the team has confirmed.Daly’s departure from the team was announced yesterday, three days after he finished his last race for them in Detroit in 15th place.
Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner, brings experience of well over 200 IndyCar starts to the team. His most recent appearance came at this year’s Indy 500, where he finished 11th in a one-off start for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
The 42-year-old admitted he was “surprised” to receive a call from team owner Ed Carpenter about Daly’s seat.
“He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realise its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in Bitnile.com,” said Hunter-Reay.
He expects his debut for the team in next week’s Road America Grand Prix will be “a challenge for me.” His Indy 500 return last month is his only start in the series in the past 20 months.
“It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world,” said Hunter-Reay. “Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber.”
However Carpenter expects recruiting Hunter-Reay will help the team raise its performance over the remaining 10 rounds of the championship.
“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader,” he said.
“I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team. We have worked together in the past as team mates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test.
“I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”
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