JOLIET, IL - AUGUST 29: Sarah Fisher drives the #67 Dollar General Sarah Fisher Racing Dallara Honda inside Ryan Hunter-Reay in the ABC Supply Co AJ Foyt Racing Dallara Honda during the IRL IndyCar Series PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 on August 29, 2009 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)
IndyCar champ: "We've got to re-double our efforts"
The pressure is certainly on for Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport to repeat their run to the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
How do they know? Well, they’re the ones creating the most of it.
“We put the most pressure on ourselves – [we] really don’t care what anybody else thinks,” Hunter-Reay said in this week’s INDYCAR teleconference, which also featured his team owner, Michael Andretti.
“We want to go out there and win and deliver for our team and our partners and sponsors. That's what really matters most. And I certainly put a lot of pressure on myself as well, so we've got a lot to do. We've got to redouble our efforts to even have a shot at defending our championship.”
Hunter-Reay collected four wins in 2012 (including a streak of three consecutive victories at Milwaukee, Iowa and Toronto), but still needed a fourth-place finish in last September’s season finale at Fontana, California to defeat Team Penske's Will Power for the title by a mere five points.
Since then, he’s kept busy with a variety of things over the winter: Participating in the Race of Champions in Thailand, continued preparation for 2013 with Andretti, and last but not least, learning the joys of fatherhood. He and wife Beccy welcomed a baby boy, Ryden, into the world on Dec. 28.
As for the upcoming season, the American racer plans to continue balancing his driving style between smart and aggressive. But as mentioned before, Hunter-Reay believes everyone in the Andretti camp will have to step it up even further than they did last year.
“It's just “big picture” racing, when you think about the whole season -- banking points, really driving to the capabilities of your car and not over it, but taking the necessary risks you need to to move yourself up in the [championship],” he said.