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Ryan Hunter-Reay

Source: Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment / other

ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. — It came as a surprise for Ryan Hunter-Reay to find himself back in a full-time ride in the NTT IndyCar Series so soon after taking a step back after the 2021 season.

“I wanted to go do the SRXs of the world. I wanted to have the opportunity to drive for teams like CGR and IMSA and Cadillac and Chip Ganassi and IMSA. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed taking a step back and kind of getting a renewed sense of kind of where I wanted to be,” RHR said.

He did have a planned return to the series in his one-off ride with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at the Indianapolis 500, but then not two weeks later he signed with Ed Carpenter Racing to replace Conor Daly in the No. 20 BitNile car.

“Obviously apart from the very unique scenarios that may come along, this one I didn’t foresee,” said Hunter-Reay. “(Getting a full-time ride) was not my objective just a few weeks ago.”

“I was surprised when it happened,” he added. “(Ed Carpenter) called me and said, I need your help. Would you be willing to do this? This is the situation that we’re in.”

RHR is now stranger to Ed Carpenter. He raced for the team when it was Vision Racing back in the late 2000s when Carpenter was his teammate.

Hunter-Reay said that he had been planning to take a step back from IndyCar near the end of the 2020 season. He and his former team, Andretti Autosport, agreed that 2021 would be his last year.

Since then RHR has dabbled in racing sports cars and was even a consultant for Juncos-Hollinger Racing for the Indy 500 in 2022.

Now he is back in the paddock as a driver as the series heads to Road America in Wisconsin of the Sonsio GP of Road America.

Hunter-Reay also was quick to point out that he feels for Daly.

“Obviously this is a tough situation. A lot has happened in a short amount of time. There’s just a whole lot to take in,” he said. “I feel for Conor. I’ve been on either end of that deal and in some cases numerous times.”

Daly was quick to find a new gig as he has since been hired by Dreyer & Reinbold to drive for the team’s NitroCross effort.