Ryan Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay has a fresh mindset coming into this year’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 28.

A competitor in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” from 2008-2021, including a memorable victory in 2014, Hunter-Reay sat on the sidelines last year as a spectator.

“It just gives you some perspective on the event itself,” said Hunter-Reay, the 2012 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion. “Some of the ins and outs of approach and how different teams go about that approach; whether it's practice, qualifying, things like that. So, I got to see a lot of that from a removed standpoint that I would have never seen had I been in the cockpit. So, yeah, it was an experience that I enjoyed. I, obviously, would always want to be in the race car, but it was something that was useful.”

SEE: Indy 500 Open Test Preview

Now, with the Month of May looming, the 42-year-old Floridian braces for a one-off return driving the No. 23 Chevrolet-powered entry for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (DRR). And he’ll get an early jump with the team with two days of open testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway later this week, on Thursday and Friday, April 20-21.

“The Indy 500 means the most to me,” he said. “The fact that I was able to be there from a removed perspective, seeing it from the outside looking in, I really enjoyed it. I got to see it from a completely different vantage point than I ever had. I really enjoyed that, and I'm really happy that I'm back this year with a program like Dreyer & Reinbold.”

The combination of RHR and DRR could be one for the books. Oriol Servia delivered the team’s best Indy 500 showing ever, scoring a fourth-place finish in 2012. Other notable results from the past include Buddy Rice and Townsend Bell, who ended up eighth and 10th, respectively, in 2008, while Justin Wilson drove to a seventh-place finish in 2010.

Sage Karam has twice recorded top 10s for the team, with a best of seventh in the 2021 running of the crown jewel race of North America’s premier open-wheel championship. Last year, Santino Ferrucci finished seventh in his only race with DRR.

That history of success is all part of why Hunter-Reay is not only motivated by the opportunity but believes DRR has all the tools to give him what he desires at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

“Yeah, it really is a good fit,” said Hunter-Reay. “It's about people, right? Sports are about people, and the right people are there. They're focusing on the right areas.

“They're Indy only. They're doing more testing and development than they've done in the past. They've done a great job the past couple of years. There's a lot of familiar faces there. And that that kind of smaller atmosphere is something that was very attractive to me.”