Winless Hunter-Reay has options outside of Andretti for 2022

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Ryan Hunter-Reay had to ditch his favorite Miami Dolphins jersey and try on a new Tennessee Titans one after his pal Ryan Tannehill was traded.

Perhaps Hunter-Reay can ask the Titans quarterback about the benefits of switching teams when they catch up this weekend in the first race of the IndyCar Music City Grand Prix on the bridge and through the streets of Nashville.

Tannehill was the 2019 AP NFL Returning Player of the Year in his first season with the Titans, and Hunter-Reay may have to stage his own rebound with a new team in 2022 if he can’t reverse a winless season. in the last year of his contract with Andretti Autosport.

His contract is over.

But the 2012 IndyCar champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner insisted he wasn’t done racing and had options for his future that didn’t necessarily include a 13th season in the race. steering wheel by Michael Andretti.

“Sometimes you have to shake it. Sometimes it takes change, ”Hunter-Reay said Wednesday. “I’m okay with that. Michael said it too. The team needs to find their rhythm. We’ll see what that entails. I had a good time there with them and we’ll see. Maybe. it continues, maybe not.

Hunter-Reay is 40 and IndyCar has been ruled by a youth movement this season. Among his Andretti Autosport teammates, Colton Herta is 21 and 2016 Indy 500 winner Alex Rossi is only 29 years old. James Hinchcliffe is 34 years old.

Hunter-Reay has struggled since the first round of the season, when he was recovered from a crash in the first lap and IndyCar’s aerodynamic cockpit shield likely saved his life when he deflected a tire from his head. He has not yet finished on the podium and has a top 10 all season. He was 24th in the last IndyCar race in Mid-Ohio.

His struggles even bled into Indy where a traditionally strong finisher (the win of 2014 and three consecutive top 10s of 2018-2020) was only 22nd.

Hunter-Reay, who only announced in January that he was back for a 12th season at Andretti with longtime sponsor DHL, knew the pressure was on to perform with just a one-year contract. . He hasn’t won an IndyCar race since the 2018 season finale at Sonoma Raceway – 41+ races.

So where could he go?

If Andretti is out of sight – former Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean could take a seat there – Hunter-Reay could find a home in the second car for Meyer Shank Racing. MSR won’t have Jack Harvey back next season and has reigning Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves on board for an all-season ride. Another landing point could be Arrow McLaren SP if it adds a third car.

“I think I’ll definitely be in an IndyCar at some point,” said Hunter-Reay. “Again, I don’t know how far it is or what options there are. We are currently working on it. They are in discussion. They are constantly on the move. Things are moving and shaking, and, yes, we’ll see. It depends on how attractive and attractive one can be compared to the other. I have to make decisions on that side and I also have to continue communication on all fronts.

He will look for the first victory in the No. 28 Honda on Sunday with Tannehill in the house.

“I’m doing everything I can to convert him into a Titan fan,” Tannehill said after the Titans practice.

Florida resident Hunter-Reay had to catch up with the Titans to keep track of Tannehill as he helped lead the team to the AFC South title last season.

“I thought they were really going to run away,” Hunter-Reay said. “They really got closer. I hope they can do it this year.

He might as well be talking about his own 2021 season.

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