BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Ryan Hunter-Reay deftly guided his car around the rain-soaked track, stayed out of trouble and wound up with a much happier ending.
Hunter-Reay coasted to his second straight victory at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday when the rain-shortened IndyCar race finished under caution, with Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti behind him.
The win came two weeks after Hunter-Reay touched off what turned into a seven-car pileup with an ill-timed attempt to pass Josef Newgarden at Long Beach to end what had been a dominating performance.
"The week after Long Beach was a pretty long one," Hunter-Reay said. "It was one where I just wanted to get back in a racecar as soon as I could.
"We knew it would be tough here. When it came to race time, I had the car in the wet, I had the car in the dry. They gave me exactly what I needed. I knew it was going to be close to make it all work out because it was so easy to make a mistake today. Just thrilled. This victory feels real good."
A full-course caution came out for the final seven minutes of the timed race after rookie Mikhail Aleshin lost control and went off the track. That left Hunter-Reay unchallenged.
Scott Dixon was third, followed by Simon Pagenaud and pole-sitter Will Power, a two-time winner at Barber who had a slight but costly misjudgment on a slippery track in the tight Turn 5.
"He was out there cutting the grass," Hunter-Reay said. "I had to take advantage of that. It was so easy to do that today. I almost lost this race three times."
There was some slipping and sliding, especially in the minutes after the field switched from the wet tires with several drivers leaving the track.
He passed Power on lap 16 when the Australian left the track and skirted by the tire barrier before pulling back on.
"I kept creeping my braking point a little bit further and further, and I went too far," Power said. "It's tough to not push past the limits with wet patches everywhere. We really didn't have the pace in the dry anyway, but that sure didn't help our cause when I went off course."
The turn is called "Charlotte's Web" because of a huge spider sculpture stationed there.
"I almost threw it away three or four times there myself," Hunter-Reay said. "It was just tiptoeing around. It was a very fine line between getting it all right or getting it all wrong.
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