The Norman Transcript

National Sports

March 21, 2013

Focus back on track before IndyCar opens

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s been more than six months since Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American driver in six years to win the IndyCar championship.

Finally, with a new season set to begin, he may finally get some attention for his achievement.

As IndyCar heads back to the race track with Sunday’s season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the focus can finally return to the racing. The drivers and their on-track product have been largely overshadowed by the off-track issues that typically plague open-wheel racing, and there’s been no bigger casualty than Hunter-Reay.

Not even mentioned among the preseason favorites a year ago, he put together a career season to climb into the title race. He used a late win at Baltimore to prevent Will Power from clinching, and snagged his first championship in the season finale at Fontana.

It was a defining moment for a driver who had clawed his way through the ranks and worked hard to stay in racing when funding dried up.

“The best thing about winning a championship, this is what I’ve been working for my entire life, it’s a dream come true,” Hunter-Reay said. “Nobody can ever take that away from me now, from us, from our team. It’s something that we accomplished. We earned it, straight up earned it. Nobody can ever take that away.”

No, they can’t take it away. But the proper credit never came.

Speculation swirled about the future of IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard for months leading into the season finale, and it consumed the series after Hunter-Reay became the first American since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 to win the title. Bernard’s eventual firing and the unrest it created among fans overshadowed everything, including any potential marketing opportunities the series could have had with Hunter-Reay.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Garcia ties record with a round of 61

    AKRON, Ohio — Sergio Garcia doesn’t know anything about being in a zone. He had no trouble identifying the best round of his career....

    August 2, 2014

  • All-Star Paul George carted off court after leg injury

    LAS VEGAS — Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George suffered a gruesome right leg injury late in the U.S. national team’s intrasquad scrimmage Friday night....

    August 2, 2014

  • Tiger in the hunt after day one at Bridgestone

    AKRON, Ohio — Tiger Woods showed signs of a positive recovery Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational. Not just from back surgery, but from making bogeys....

    August 1, 2014

  • Cardinals Red Sox Trade Cardinals land Lackey, shore up rotation

    BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday’s deadline....

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Defensive indefernce in Big-D as injury suffles front seven

    OXNARD, Calif. — Rookie pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence’s broken foot didn’t send the Dallas Cowboys scrambling because they’re already in rebuilding mode with their defensive line....

    August 1, 2014

  • Rams’ go with youth in secondary

    ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams secondary doesn’t have veteran leaders, high-dollar talent or big names. Those handling spots on the last line of defense are confident they won’t be a liability....

    August 1, 2014

  • Rams plan to rely more on running game as Bradford returns to form

    ST. LOUIS — Regardless of how quarterback Sam Bradford’s knee responds following an ACL tear and subsequent surgery during last season, the St. Louis Rams planned to lean heavily on their running game in 2014....

    August 1, 2014

  • Tigers go all in on Price

    DETROIT — When David Price was finally traded, it was to an unexpected bidder. The Detroit Tigers added another Cy Young Award winner to their star-studded rotation, acquiring Price from Tampa Bay in a blockbuster deal Thursday....

    August 1, 2014

  • Rodgers still acclimating to new targets

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — Even star quarterback Aaron Rodgers had has a learning curve at the start of training camp....

    August 1, 2014

  • Larson set record, takes pole at Pocono

    LONG POND, Pa. — Kyle Larson had one more celebration left during his birthday week, setting a track record of 183.438 mph to win his first career Sprint Cup pole Friday at Pocono Raceway....

    August 1, 2014