Newly crowned IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay says that his title was the culmination of a "breakout year" for the Andretti Autosport team, although he also paid tribute to rival Will Power's performances during the season.
"I think Will's one of the great talents there has been in IndyCar in a very long time," Hunter-Reay said. "He's one of the best. He certainly would be a deserving champion if he won it. But we had a breakout year. We really did. We fought for this thing.
"I can't put it into words; the feeling. How hard I had to fight. How we had to fight tonight. Just this whole thing has not set in yet. I'm still in almost fight mode. We really earned this one."
The American came into the race with a 17-point deficit to Power, but only needed to finish fifth after the Penske driver crashed out. He was running third when Tony Kanaan hit the wall with 10 laps remaining, bringing out a red flag and setting up an eight-lap sprint to the finish.
Hunter-Reay eventually crossed the line in fourth after Takuma Sato crashed on the last lap. He admitted that the final laps were the most stressful he has ever experienced.
"That was the most pressure I've ever had in my life, the past 20 laps of that race," said Hunter-Reay. "Then the red happened and we had to sit there and think about it when we had a good rhythm going.
"It was stressful down to the last bit. The relief is still coming off. I'm still just taking it all in."