"Ryan's just been a huge part of our team, a great guy, a friend," said Michael Andretti, who won for the third time as a team owner. "He deserves it. He deserves to have his face on that trophy. If it couldn't be Marco, he's the next guy I wanted."
A year ago, Hunter-Reay was passed for the lead with three laps remaining and went on to finish third as the race finished under caution. He was leading Sunday and had control of the race until Townsend Bell's crash brought out the red flag. Hunter-Reay figured he was a sitting duck as the leader, his chances over.
"I can't get a break," he lamented on his team radio.
But after swapping the lead with Castroneves three times, including a dramatic inside move in Turn 3, Hunter-Reay made the final and decisive pass as the two cars took the white flag.
"At the end of the day there's stupid and bravery, and I think we were right there on the edge, both of us," Castroneves said. "I'm glad we both come out in a good way. I'm sad it did not come out the way I wanted."
The race went a record 150 laps without a caution as the pace zipped along and Busch at one point had no worries at all about getting to North Carolina in time for NASCAR's longest event of the year. Then a Charlie Kimball spin brought out the first yellow, a crash by Scott Dixon led to a second caution and a risky three-wide move on the next restart caused pole-sitter Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe to wreck.
Carpenter was livid, calling out Hinchcliffe for an "amateur" move.
"The moment when Hinch decided to make it three-wide was more than any of us could handle," Carpenter said. "I told him if he didn't have a concussion last week I would have punched him in the face."
Hinchcliffe, cleared to drive last weekend after suffering a concussion two weeks ago in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, accepted responsibility.
"I was the last guy on the scene," he said. "I have to take the blame, for sure. I feel really bad for (Carpenter) because he had a great month and was doing a great job."
The race resumed and Hunter-Reay was in control until the fourth and final caution, which led IndyCar to throw a rare red flag to allow the drivers a chance to race to the finish.
"It went green the whole way and I love that," Hunter-Reay said. "Winning it under green like that with just a fantastic finish — I hope the fans loved it because I was on the edge of my seat."