Charlie Kimball, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mike Conway on the Toronto podium - IZOD Indycar Series LAT USAEnlarge Photo
Combined with Will Powers' 15th place result, Hunter-Reay became the first US-born driver to lead the standings since Sam Hornish Jr in 2006, his final year in the Indy cars.
Charlie Kimball finished second in the No. 83 NovoRapid/FlexTouch Honda after 85 laps of a street fight, while Mike Conway took third place for AJ Foyt Racing's No. 14 ABC Supply Co Honda.
Hunter-Reay used Firestone's primary tires until his lap 55 stop, then took on the red, alternate rubber that helped him increase his lead over a charging Kimball.
"My team gave me the car to win today and we had it when it mattered again - at the end," Hunter-Reay explained. "We didn't need to win the beginning of the race; we just needed to win the end. It's just been such a pleasure and I can't even believe three races in a row--this is going to take a second to settle in."
RHR, who seemed to move from team to team in the early part of his Indy car career has been with Andretti Autosport for three seasons now, and credits that continuity for his success this year.
"The team is really clicking together," he said. "We're all good friends; it's the right environment. We just keep doing that. The only nerve-wracking part about the points, the championship chase is that you don't want to come under anybody else's mistake. We're' just going to keep doing what we're doing, nothing overcomplicated, and really enjoying it."
These three victories have come when Target Ganassi's Dario Franchitti has been on pole position. The race didn't go all that well for the four-time and reigning IZOD IndyCar champion, who didn't hit his marks in the first pit stop, moving him from second (behind former leader Will Power, who finished 15th) to 21st at the time. He began one of his patented drives through the field, only to crash in the final lap chaos. Franchitti's pole run is fine with Hunter-Reay: "Every time I've won, Dario has been on the pole. I hope he gets a lot of poles this year."
Kimball, who started 13th started gaining positions from the green flag and was up to eighth by the 30th lap, sixth by lap 55. After the final round of pit stops he was battling for third place with Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson, Josef Newgarden and Ryan Briscoe. "I know there were only 25 of us out there, but the amount of times I passed people, there felt like there were about 50 cars," Kimball laughed.
"The car was quick and all I had to do was turn and make a couple of moves when they were there. That last restart," Kimball acknowledged, "got pretty busy but at the end of the day we came home with a clean result and a all credit to Ryan. I think today driving 'conservative' was maximum attack. When you're going for it, the thing was sideways everywhere and you really had to push. I sure had a lot of fun in the cockpit!"
While Conway earned his best result for AJ Foyt Racing this year, team owner AJ Foyt Jr said he wasn't coming to Victory Lane to congratulate his driver until he won one. "We've been working really hard all year," Conway confessed. "We've been getting in ther and this weekend I felt like we started off better than we have before, so we just kept dialing in and come warmup this morning, I was pretty happy with it."