Fuel conservation, strategy negates dominant Texas IndyCar run for Ryan Hunter-Reay

Ryan Hunter-Reay led the most laps in the DXC Technology 600 but that ultimately proved to be his undoing.

Ryan Hunter-Reay had the fastest car on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway in the DXC Technology 600.

Ultimately, the car was probably too fast.

That’s because the Hunter-Reay lead 90 laps, burned up too much fuel, and found himself needing to make an extra stop as a result.

Even as the 2012 champion widened his lead over Scott Dixon to nearly five seconds in the second half of the race, it was with a huge caveat that he was going to need a lengthy caution or find some other way to conserve fuel inside the top-five.

He got the caution on Lap 219 but it wasn’t long enough to risk staying out and he opted to take tires, especially with only 11 cars on the lead lap, but could only get to fifth by the drop of the checkered flag.

“The whole thing kind of just unraveled on us,” Hunter-Reay said after the race. “The car was great. It definitely could have won us the race tonight but we just lost it on strategy. This No. 28 DHL team has done so great in the past on strategy so it’s not like I can sit here and call anyone out because we’ve won a lot of these races the same way.”

So how did Hunter-Reay get so off-cycle anyway?

“We led too much probably, and didn’t save enough, probably,” Hunter-Reay said. “I think it had a lot to do with us catching traffic. It took us too long to get to the first batch and we burned fuel trying to get them and then, it snowballed out of control, because we pit a lap shorter and then two laps shorter than the other guys, leading so much.

“And then with the way the yellows fell, it became a mess for us.”

And then came the last restart with 22 to go, with Hunter-Reay in 11th but mired behind lapped traffic. The 2014 Indianapolis 500 said new tires didn’t provide the advantage he had anticipated. He won the 2014 race at Iowa Speedway in a similar fashion going 11th to first in 10laps on new tires.

These tires didn’t feature enough fall-off amongst those who stayed out.

“I was able to make up some ground on the start but once everyone settled into a rhythm with the temperatures as cool as they were, the discrepancies between new and old was not a difference,” he said. “There was no difference.”  

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