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Ryan Hunter-Reay

Source: Karl Zemlin/Penske Entertainment / other

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The Indianapolis 500 means the possibility of drivers making the race that don’t compete on the full-time NTT IndyCar Series circuit. Every year among those drivers are those of the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing stable.

DRR is back once again to try and make its 25th consecutive Indianapolis 500 while operating as a team that has mostly operated as a team with the sole purpose of racing in the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’

However, DRR is in a unique position this year with its budding partnership with Cusick Motorsports and other opportunities for growth beyond what has made the team what it has been in the last two decades.

Then you add former IndyCar Series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay into the mix as a driver along with fan favorite Conor Daly.

“It’s great to have Ryan back,” said DRR co-owner Dennis Reinbold. “As soon as the race was over last year, I told him, hey, if it works out we want you back, and it worked out.”

After starting 18th in last year’s race Hunter-Reay was able to bring his No. 23 machine home in 11th. After his first year as a “one-off” driver with DRR he believes he is in the right spot for his career given how long he has been racing. RHR turned 43 this past December.

“I love it. I really do. You have all these guys that are just absolutely dialing in on this one race,” RHR said. “You don’t have all these folks being pulled in a million different directions. Right now the rest of the — pretty much the rest of the field is mid-season grind mode right now. These guys (other teams) are tired.”

Hunter-Reay did compete in more than one race last year filling in for the remainder of the season after the Indy 500 when Ed Carpenter Racing brought him in. Coincidentally ECR parted ways with Conor Daly and Hunter-Reay ended up taking the seat he left behind. Now Daly and RHR are teammates at Dreyer & Reinbold.

The two were once teammates in their days at Andretti Autosport (now Andretti Global).

So at 43, it starts to beg the question of how long Hunter-Reay thinks he can keep racing.

“I still feel like I’m 28, so I have no idea. It doesn’t even enter my mind,” he said. “I think about this race all the time. That’s what I really love about working with this team and with Dennis, as well, is he’s got that same passion about it that I do, for it that I do. As long as it’s one of the most important things for me and what I focus on, then I don’t really have an answer for you on that because I haven’t thought about it.”