Source: Team PR
SPEEDWAY, IN (May 28, 2023) – It was an emotional day for the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports team Sunday in the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race before a huge crowd at the most famous racing facility in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Sunday morning garage visit by the injured Stefan Wilson, who received back surgery Wednesday after a Monday practice crash at IMS, had the entire two-car organization in high emotions as Wilson greeted his racing team members as well as drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal, who filled in for Wilson in the No. 24 DRR/Cusick Motorsports/CareKeepers Chevrolet in the Indy 500.
High hopes for the squad went throughout the garage in the morning engine warm-up, but, unfortunately, the emotions dropped before the race when Rahal’s mount failed to start due to a faulty battery. When the engine was started, Graham was two laps behind the 32 other drivers and fought his way back to finish 22nd in the 200-lap race.
Hunter-Reay, who started 18th in the 33-driver field, also fought his way through the incredibly tight competition and took his No. 23 DRR/ROOT Insurance Chevrolet into the top-ten late in the race. In fact, RHR led eight laps (180-188) before the first red flag period in the race Sunday. He had to pit on lap 189 for fuel and tires, and he came from fifteen to eleventh at the checkered flag.
Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indy 500 champion, battled an understeer/push in his race car in the first half of the event as the crew attempted to improve the car’s handling with each pit stop. With 50 laps to go, RHR began to work his way up the field with several sensational passes. Tough luck hurt RHR in the last 15 laps when the red flag fell due to a Felix Rosenqvist and Kyle Kirkwood incident. Had Ryan made a late dash for fuel prior to the red flag, he might have been battling for a top-five finish.
“We started the race with a lot of push (understeer) and because of that, we got some tire vibrations in the first two stints which really impacted our performance today,” said Hunter-Reay. “We spent half of the race chasing the balance of the car. Unfortunately, the front wing adjuster broke on the first pit stop, and that limited us in what we could do (with the car). We could only trim the rear of the car to get the balance we needed. In the last quarter of the race, I could actually race and move forward. I made up some positions then. It was one of those days where the ball didn’t roll our day. Even late in the race when we ran in the lead, we didn’t get in the pits for fuel when the red came out. That hurt us late in the race too. Earlier in the day, it was great to see Stefan in our garage. Very emotional for the whole team.”
Rahal, starting his 16th Indy 500 Sunday, spent time with Wilson in the team’s garage Sunday morning and two exchanged information regarding their racing machine.
“First, I’m very thankful to get the opportunity to race at the 500 and thank you to Dreyer & Reinbold and Cusick Motorsports for allowing me to be here and be a part of the 500 with them,” said Rahal. “Obviously, a tough start to the day. We never really got going. We actually had a decent day from there on moving forward up until the very end as I filled in for Stef. We just didn’t get to see it through after the battery issue. Again, I’m thankful and lucky to have been here, but I’m certainly already eager to come back next year and have a shot at winning this race. It was great to spend time with Stef before the race.”
Both Hunter-Reay and Rahal will be racing in the near future with Ryan in the SRX Short Track Series in July and Graham next week at the Detroit Grand Prix for the NTT IndyCar Series. In addition, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is currently preparing its Nitro Rallycross Electric vehicles for the 2023 season opener in Oklahoma in June. DRR drivers — Robin Larrson, Andreas Bakkerud and Fraser McConnell – finished 1-2-3 in the Nitro RX standings last year.