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After 2013 near-miss, Hunter-Reay confident ahead of this year’s Indy 500

May 22, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

It seems like Ryan Hunter-Reay has been overlooked somewhat going into Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 and it’s a bit strange to wonder why that’s the case considering that he almost won the whole thing last year.

The American came close to drinking the milk, but was jumped on a restart with three laps to go by both race winner Tony Kanaan and Carlos Munoz before a crash triggered a yellow and caused him to finish in third place.

Hunter-Reay will roll off 19th for Sunday’s race after a sub-par qualifying session, but believes that his piece for Sunday is capable of delivering so much more.

“There’s a bit of a gut feeling,” he said today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “I do feel pretty confident in the car I have under me for sure. We weren’t too happy with the qualifying effort, but the race car is awesome.”

If so, Hunter-Reay will have the chance to end a hectic Month of May on a high.

He and the rest of the IndyCar contingent have had to prepare for and race the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course, then go into ‘500’ practice and qualifying immediately after. And the day following qualifying, they had to go back into their cars again for a special practice session designed to have teams focus on race set-up.

“I think that was the most consecutive days that I’ve strapped myself into a race car,” Hunter-Reay said. “I think it was almost two weeks in total. For sure, there were some stressful times…It’s been busy and the crew’s been busy as well – it’s just been non-stop, so we’re looking forward to Sunday and just getting the main show on with it.”

Like many of the other drivers, Hunter-Reay is counting on the draft to play a major role in Sunday’s outcome. However, there is the matter of warmer temperatures for this year’s running, which could have a notable impact on equipment.

“Being 20 degrees warmer ambient this year should play a factor in handling of the race cars, so you might see that come into play,” he said. “I’m not quite sure though. One thing’s for sure – these cars punch a big hole in the air and create a massive draft. And I think everybody’s going to be nose to tail for a while.”

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