FONTANA, Calif. — The decision to stay with Andretti Autosport apparently came down to loyalty for Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Hunter-Reay wrapped a two-year contract extension before Saturday night’s IndyCar season finale, which he entered trailing leader Will Power by 17 points for the series championship. Hunter-Reay spent the week at Auto Club Speedway declining to discuss his free agency, or reports he was being courted by powerful Penske Racing.
He still didn’t want to talk about his decision, which was announced late Friday night by the team, until after the finale.
“I have a lot of deep rooted relationships with the team and the team sponsors and I’m looking forward to continuing and further developing those relationships,” he said in a statement. “I’m happy to be able to enjoy the offseason knowing what the next two years hold. I’m looking forward to my return with Andretti Autosport and hope to have the opportunity to speak more on it soon, but (Saturday) we are focused on leaving Fontana with a championship.”
Hunter-Reay has been with Andretti for three seasons, the longest he’s ever been with the same team. He believes it’s played a pivotal role in pushing him into title contention for the first time in his career.
Hunter-Reay led IndyCar this season with four wins, and set career highs in podium finishes and laps led while vying to become the first American since 2006 to win the title.
Team owner Michael Andretti said the lineup this year of Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay is the strongest the team has been in years, and Hunter-Reay’s re-signing gives the team stability.
“We are happy to have Ryan back with us for the 2013 and 2014 IndyCar seasons. He is a tough competitor and has become an important part of our team,” Andretti said. “He is the ultimate team player and I know we can count on him, along with his teammates, to continue to be a foundation for us. We believe that he, Marco and James will continue to work together and take the team to great places with great success.”