Q: This three-race stretch is on very diverse tracks. To have won on all three, that's pretty impressive. Can you talk more about that, the personal satisfaction?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It is. You know, to win three races in a row is very special. It's a dream of mine. This is what I've always wanted since I was little, to be competing in the IndyCar Series, top-level team, winning back-to-back races, and being in a place for the championship. This is incredibly special for me. I'm appreciative of every lap that I get in this series because I love it.
You know, looking forward, with five races to go, like I said, we just need to really enjoy it. It's nice to have realized that we're in this position. And this is what I've always wanted, but now we have to take hold of it and go get it done. To beat Will, Dario, Dixon – you know, a lot of these guys, it's just going to be really tough week in and week out to do it. It's going to take something special from us – maybe something even more special than we've already done.
The Milwaukee flat oval, Iowa oval, you come to a street circuit, and couldn't be any different. That's a testament to the team. We're versatile. Not only myself, but the team. You're only as good as your car. They have to give me the car to do it.
It is very satisfying for me to know that, boom, oval, oval. Last week people were starting to say, "Isn't it weird that your past three races are wins on oval and you're supposed to be a road course guy?" Then to get it at Toronto, it's nice, for sure.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not getting ahead of myself. The whole thing could change next weekend and we could be struggling. Will Power said something before the season that he goes into every year feeling like he could possibly never win another race again. That's how I felt after the last win: "Man, we really have to dig deep here to get another one of these." It is difficult to wind it all up.
Q: This race is known for cautions. You build up a big lead. How did you determine your fuel strategy? Did you fight with your engineer?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Usually at Toronto you are arguing. Today was smooth. Saved fuel in the beginning stint. Track wasn't quite rubbered-in. Had a little imbalance. We pit. The yellow came out. That was definitely nice. They closed the pits after that. That got Dario and Will, I believe. Then we restarted third. We got (Ryan) Briscoe for second on the restart, and then settled in behind Simon (Pagenaud). He pits, and I'm not sure what happened to him from there.
But I put my head down and I was just putting qualifying laps in. We stretched out a lead. From there, all good. It was a pretty docile Toronto event from my perspective.
Q: A few years ago people were wondering Ryan Hunter-Reay, a talented American driver who can't find a ride in open-wheel racing. You're here now. Does that bring a different dimension to being the championship leader?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, absolutely. I struggled to find a home really. I've been saying it in some interviews today. This is a team sport, it really is, in every way, as much as football, soccer, anything. It's a team sport. And to find continuity, to find a home, to work with the guys around you for two, three years in a row makes a massive difference.
I can see it now. That's why Dixon has been with Ganassi for so long; for Franchitti; Helio (Castroneves) has been with Penske for so long. It makes a difference. I'm enjoying that part of it now.
That makes me that much more appreciative to be in this position, to have a solid ride, and hopefully it will be for many more years to come. I don't know, but you have to drive like it's your last race, and I still do that way.
Q: You made comments in Victory Lane about finally finding a family atmosphere where you could let the talent come out. When you talk about it, you put a lot of credit on the team. How much of this success do you think is your chemistry with the team and how much is the car and engine they put under you?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's everything. To win one of these races, everything has to come together. You have to be firing on all cylinders. Everything has to go right. You might even need a little luck along the way.
I have to give the engineering department a lot of credit at Andretti Autosport. They are given the opportunity from Michael to do what they're doing. Here we are making the results happen on track from their hard work.
It's really nice to see all that paying off. Hopefully we have more of that to come. That's why I keep saying about the team, the atmosphere within the team is the best I've seen it since I've been here.