MIAMI – A who’s who weekend of auto racing competition came to an exciting end today, as seven Verizon IndyCar Series drivers completed their runs at the 2017 Race Of Champions.
The day consisted of two competitions at Little Havana’s Marlins Park – the ROC Nations Cup and America vs. The World. In the Nations Cup, multi-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel captured the win for Germany after besting Team USA NASCAR’s Kyle Busch. His brother, Kurt Busch, advanced the team after defeating 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi from Team USA INDYCAR in a controversial semifinal.
“There was a huge discrepancy at the start, and afterwards it was discussed and he (Kurt Busch) admitted to jumping the start, but there was no penalty,” Rossi said. “We’re teammates (in America vs. The World) so I guess we’ll have to bury that.”
The win was Germany’s eighth in Nations Cup competition. Vettel was the only driver representing the country after his teammate, Pascal Wehrlein, withdrew following a crash in the Champion of Champions contest Saturday that was eventually won by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
Team INDYCAR dispersed yet again in America vs. The World, a first-ever Ryder Cup-style finale for the ROC event being held in the United States for the first time. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rossi joined their American countrymen from NASCAR and rallycross while Gabby Chaves, James Hinchcliffe, Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan represented The World.
Montoya and Rossi earned wins for their respective teams, but the showdown ended with rallycross athletes Scott Speed and Petter Solberg squaring off. Solberg took the win for Team World in his fourth ROC appearance.
Hunter-Reay, also competing in the event for the fourth time, did not gain his first ROC title, but did have several special guests on hand for the weekend.
His wife, Beccy, attended with their two older sons, Ryden and Rocsen. Miami Dolphins quarterback and friend Ryan Tannehill also attended and rode with Hunter-Reay during one of his early Nations Cup runs. Tannehill compared the experience to riding in the Indy car two-seater in St. Petersburg last March.
“It was fun,” Tannehill said. “The turns are super sharp and we did a little drifting, which we didn’t do in an Indy car, so it was a lot of fun.”
Hunter-Reay, Kanaan, Castroneves and Montoya are all long-time South Florida residents and were pleased with Team INDYCAR’s results on their home turf.
“It’s been a blast here in Miami,” Hunter-Reay said. “The energy is great and hopefully we can build on this for years to come and come back to the U.S. because the fans have had really good feedback. Hopefully we can make this a temporary home for Race Of Champions.”
Watch the video below to hear the INDYCAR drivers' thoughts on today's ROC competition: