An Indy 500 winner and IndyCar champion was unable to land a ride for this year’s running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.
At long last, the 33rd entry was confirmed for the 106th running of the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway two weeks ago. This entry is one which is being fielded through a partnership involving DragonSpeed and Cusick Motorsports. Three-time Indy 500 starter Stefan Wilson is set to drive the #25 Chevrolet.
As a result, this year’s running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) oval in Speedway, Indiana has managed to avoid becoming the first since 1947 not to feature a full field.
But with the entry list now set for Memorial Day Sunday’s 200-lap race, the sixth of 17 races on the 2022 IndyCar calendar, there is one notable omission.
For the first time since 2007, Ryan Hunter-Reay is not slated to compete in the Indy 500.
There had been rumors about him potentially driving the 33rd entry, but those rumors did not come to fruition, and his focus is already on making sure he has a spot on the entry list for the 107th running of the race next year.
Hunter-Reay lost his full-time ride with Andretti Autosport, which he had held since the 2010 season, following the 2021 season to Romain Grosjean, and the 2012 series champion was unable to land elsewhere for the 2022 season.
The Indy 500 remained in play, but after missing out on a ride with Ed Carpenter Racing, that became increasingly unlikely.
Hunter-Reay’s absence removes a perennial contender from this year’s Indy 500 field. After a third place finish in 2013, which might well have been a win if there had been a red flag, he took advantage of a red flag in 2014 and scored an epic win over then three-time winner Helio Castroneves following one of the greatest finishes in race history.
Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport — and Honda as a whole — didn’t show much speed in 2015, but Hunter-Reay was the driver to beat in 2016 before contact in the pits knocked him out of contention. In 2017, he was again the driver to beat, but a blown engine spoiled another bid to become a two-time winner.
Hunter-Reay bounced back with three straight top 10 finishes, doubling his career total, from 2018 to 2020. In 2021, he was slated for another top five finish before a late pit road speeding penalty stemming from brake issues which were quite common throughout the field.
Qualifying for the 106th running of the Indy 500 is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22, and the race itself is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 29, with live coverage set to begin on NBC beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET.