Ryan Hunter-Reay was asked to complete the season in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy and share insights on how the team might improve its cars and improve its processes.
As he prepares to complete that mission for his close friend Carpenter, the 2012 IndyCar Series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner says he is not looking to return to the No. 20 or any other IndyCar entry on a season-long basis after Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey is run.
“I’m focusing on the 500 and some other opportunities outside of full-time IndyCar racing,” Hunter-Reay told RACER. “That’s where I’m at. The most solid thing that I’m working on is the 500, and once I get that put together, I’ll know more about where everything else falls. But nothing’s set in stone.”
Hunter-Reay had an immediate effect on young teammate Rinus VeeKay, who noticed the veteran began taking copious notes in their first post-session engineering debrief. Having filled countless notebooks with his observations of how each session or race went along with the chassis changes, track conditions, and other items to preserve for future consultation, Hunter-Reay’s record-keeping practices—something done by many seasoned drivers—stood out as something for the rapid Dutchman to adopt.
After their first weekend together at Road America, VeeKay bought a notebook and has followed Hunter-Reay’s lead, and in kind, the 42-year-old has picked up a few things from the kid who turns 23 on Monday.
“I think I brought in a new perspective, and I highlighted areas that I think are their strengths and areas that I believe we should all work on to improve for next year,” said the driver who will start his 293rd IndyCar race on Sunday.
“We’ve certainly had lots of meetings on this and spent lots of time on improving the team in ways that are positive and should be positive moving forward. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Rinus. He obviously has as much natural raw talent as anybody in the series.
“I think something that I take away from him is being upbeat. Optimism is really a quality trait and something that you need. For me also, coming in midseason, it’s been drinking from the firehose when everybody was already up to speed, but we’ve never stopped working on finding all the little details that we can improve and I know the team will be the better for it going into next year.”