IndyCar: Ryan Hunter-Reay to return to Andretti Autosport in 2021

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

2012 IndyCar champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay is set to return to Andretti Autosport for a 12th year in the 2021 season.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, whose contract with Andretti Autosport had expired at the end of the 2020 IndyCar season, is set to return to the team behind the wheel of the #28 Honda for the 2021 season.

DHL, the longtime primary sponsor of the 2012 champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner, also renewed their deal with the Honda-powered team for 2021 after signing a multi-year extension that ran through 2020 back in 2016.

The 2021 season is slated to be Hunter-Reay’s 18th season at the highest level of American open-wheel racing, as he competed in CART/Champ Car from 2003 to 2005 and made his IndyCar debut in 2007.

Here is what Hunter-Reay had to say about the matter, according to a team release.

"“I’m eager to get to work and honored to represent both DHL and Andretti Autosport yet again. DHL has been one of the longest tenured primary sponsors in INDYCAR history and that yellow 28 car has become one of the iconic INDYCAR liveries; for that I am extremely grateful. I want nothing more than to add a second Indy 500 win to our accomplishments and earn the title of INDYCAR Champion for a second time as well.Coupled with the DHL partnership, AutoNation has also been vital to my career over the past nine years and I’m very proud for the opportunity to continue as a Drive Pink brand ambassador as well. 2020 was a pretty unconventional season, and we left the year with unfinished business. Overall, as a team, we’re focused on extracting the maximum potential from the speed we had in 2020.”"

Here is what Andretti Autosport chairman and CEO Michael Andretti had to say.

"“We’re really happy to welcome both DHL and Ryan back for the 2021 INDYCAR season. Over the past 10 years, DHL has become family to us, and Ryan has recorded some of the team’s greatest accomplishments. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2021 brings.”"

Here is what DHL Express Americas CEO Mike Parra had to add.

"“We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Andretti Autosport into 2021, powered by our No. 28 champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay. We’ve shared an incredible history with Ryan throughout his entire INDYCAR career, as he has been an amazing DHL brand ambassador. Ryan has helped to further elevate our brand and engage our employees while he continues to excite racing fans.”"

Since making his debut at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2007, Ryan Hunter-Reay has not missed an IndyCar race.

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The 40-year-old has competed in 223 races in a row, the third longest active streak. Ahead of the 2010 season, he signed with Andretti Autosport, and he has driven for the team ever since, with DHL as his primary sponsor beginning the following year.

Hunter-Reay won two races in CART/Champ Car and has accrued 16 victories in IndyCar, with his first coming in 2008 at Watkins Glen International when he drove for Rahal Letterman Racing. He won a career-high four races in the 2012 season, including three in a row in the middle of the season, en route to a come-from-behind championship effort over Will Power. He went on to win the Indy 500 in 2014 after a memorable battle with Helio Castroneves.

Hunter-Reay has not won a race since the 2018 season, which was his best season since his championship-winning campaign. After going winless in 2016 and 2017, he won at the Raceway on Belle Isle and Sonoma Raceway en route to a fourth place finish in the championship standings.

He also tied his career-high mark for podium finishes with six in 2018, tying the mark he set in 2012 and tied in 2013 and 2014, and he recorded a career-best average finish of 8.7.

Hunter-Reay is coming off of a disappointing 2020 season in which he finished in 10th place in the championship standings, his worst since 2016 (12th), with one podium finish, his worst since 2009 (also one), and an average finish of 11.5, his worst since 2013 (11.6). He also led only four laps, his worst since he did not lead at all in 2009.

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Andretti Autosport have now confirmed three of their drivers for the 2021 season, as Alexander Rossi is set to continue driving the #27 Honda and Colton Herta is set to continue driving for the team, albeit behind the #26 Honda. James Hinchcliffe replaced Zach Veach behind the wheel of the #26 Honda to close out the 2020 season and Marco Andretti has driven the #98 Honda for the last three seasons, but neither driver has been confirmed for 2021 yet.