Ryan Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 23 DRR-Cusick Motorsports Chevrolet battled throttle problems during the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Open Test in April at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, completing just seven laps with a top speed of 206.290 mph.

“For whatever reason, we had a throttle sensor issue where it wouldn’t go above 75-80%,” he said.

Entering practice in preparation for the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500, 2012 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Hunter-Reay isn’t concerned about the lack of laps from the test. This is the same team, same car, same everything in which he finished 11th a year ago. His confidence was justified, as he ended up ninth fastest at 226.490 mph during practice Wednesday.

Team owner Dennis Reinbold said his team isn’t showing up here to finish in the top 10. He wants to win. Hunter-Reay is more than capable of delivering Dreyer & Reinbold Racing its first INDYCAR SERIES victory since the team’s debut in 2000 at Walt Disney World Speedway with Robbie Buhl behind the wheel.

Reinbold also has a driver in Hunter-Reay who knows how to win the “500.”

It’s hard to believe it has been a decade since Hunter-Reay outlasted Helio Castroneves by .0600 of a second to win a scintillating 2014 Indianapolis 500. That ranks as the second-closet finish in the 107-year history of the race.

“Time flies here, and every chance that you have at this place is a gift,” Hunter-Reay said. “You never know when it's when it's going to be that opportunity that you need to take full advantage of and make the most of it, so I'm looking forward to it.

“The great thing is nobody knows who's got a good chance shot at this thing right now. Obviously, you have the teams that have the most resources are the favorites. But no one really knows when it comes down to it.”

With eight attempts in the last nine years to become one of 20 drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 multiple times, Hunter-Reay does look back at one race he felt slip through his grasp.

“In 2016, we should have absolutely won,” he said.

Hunter-Reay finished 24th, two laps down, but lost his first lap after a collision on pit road with teammate Townsend Bell and Helio Castroneves on Lap 117. Prior to that, Hunter-Reay dominated, leading 15 times for a race-high 52 laps.

The 2024 race will be Hunter-Reay’s 16th Indianapolis 500 attempt, but the feeling of driving through the tunnel and entering the track never changes.

“There's nothing like Indy, and I think that'll last even until we're really old men in the same place,” he said. “It's magic here, for sure. It's always great to get back on track and go fast.”

Indianapolis is extra special for Hunter-Reay now that his family is older and able to fully appreciate the magnitude of what he is doing. Ten years ago, the image of his sons donning the yellow and red DHL mini-fire suits to mimic their dad’s adult sized fire suit was a touching moment. Those kids have grown up and grasp what their dad has done at this historic place. Indianapolis has become special to them, too.

“They love this place more so than Disney World,” Hunter-Reay said. “Honestly, it's the highlight of our year. They can't wait. They're constantly asking, ‘When are we going to Indy, when are we going to Indy?’

“So, they're all for it, and this is a big part of their lives, as well. It’s become a part of our family’s foundation. It’s awesome.”