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."
The balance of the top 10 were Tony Kanaan (from 17th grid spot), Oriol Servia who came from 14th, Helio Castroneves, JR Hildebrand (from 14th), James Jakes posting his best Indy car result in eighth, Takuma Sato and Alex Tagliani. Nineteen cars were running at the end, 12 on the lead lap.
Simon Pagenaud gets air - IZOD Indycar Series LAT USA
Newgarden was running fourth at the time behind Pagenaud and had sufficient fuel to make it to the end where the Frenchman did not; he was able to get underway again, but as customarily occurs, that yellow begat a third caution period on the 83rd lap that forced the race to finish under caution. The final yellow came for two incidents: one at Turn 1 when Sebastien Bourdais got tossed into the wall, while a second was for a collision between Ryan Briscoe, polesitter Dario Franchitti, Ed Carpenter, Marco Andretti and Pagenaud - again--at Turn 3.
This was a day Scott Dixon would love to forget after qualifying fourth. His Honda engine took a literal leak after he'd swept by the start/finish line to begin the eighth lap and he was the first car out of the race, relegating Dixon to fourth place in the points. Local hero James Hinchcliffe, too, had Chevy engine trouble--with a new engine in his car--and was out after 28 laps were complete. Justin Wilson qualified third but his day was done after 67 laps; he had an intermittent miss that went full power and pretty much tossed him in the wall, bending his suspension. Simona de Silvestro lost her new, updated Lotus engine after nine laps.
Now Hunter-Reay is the leader of this 25-plus-car pack with 335 points and has Power on his heels with 301. Helio Castroneves lies third with 289 points and Dixon slid to fourth with 281, as did Hinchcliffe, now owning 268 points in fifth. Tony Kanaan, who seems to run best on Sunday is sixth (267), Pagenaud, Franchitti, Briscoe and the amazing Oriol Servia, who has gained more than 90 positions through this Honda Indy Toronto rounds out the top 10.
With its three straight victories courtesy of Hunter-Reay, Chevrolet leads the manufacturers championship with 81 points to Honda's 68 and Lotus' 40. Pagenaud is handily leading the rookie standings, his 264 points dwarfing those of Newgarden (143) and Katherine Legge (103).
The Indy cars have a one-week breather before reconvening in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on July 22.