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Alongside Hunter-Reay: ‘Champ’ hasn’t sunk in yet

10.23.2012 (Via Dave Lewandowski, - First in a series looking at the IZOD IndyCar Series championship season of Ryan Hunter-Reay through various eyes. Today, the feat hasn't sunk yet. 

BRASELTON, Ga. — Ryan Hunter-Reay paused upon hearing “Hey there, champ,” as if Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Shane Mosley had walked under the SRT Motorsports canopy at Road Atlanta. Slowly turning, a smile that could be the next Internet meme greets the manufacturer rep.

Five weeks after claiming the IZOD IndyCar Series title in a scintillating 500-mile season finale at Auto Club Speedway, Hunter-Reay still is struck by the feat six months in the making. Partly because of a hectic postseason schedule, he hasn’t had much time to explore the magnitude.  

“I think it will all sink in at the Championship Celebration in Indy (Dec. 6) when the car is up on stage with the Astor Cup and the rest of the team,” says Hunter-Reay, whose fourth-place finish in the 200-lap finale wrested the title by three points from Will Power. “It’s been a lot of fun since; it’s been every race car driver’s dream.”

It has been a whirlwind since he descended the stairs of the championship stage at the racetrack. A media tour of New York was followed by personal appearances with Team Chevy drivers in Michigan, nearly two full weeks of testing two different races cars for the Petit Le Mans and competing in the 1,000-mile race Oct. 20 in the GT class.

On tap this week is testing on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course followed by a celebratory event in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he resides with his wife Beccy and golden retrievers Captain Dan and Charlie Daniels. Maybe he’ll be able to unwind for a few days and fit in some fishing.

“To bring the race car to downtown Fort Lauderdale, which is (car primary sponsor) DHL’s base, will be a lot of fun,” says Hunter-Reay, 31. “There’s a lot to be thankful for. Looking back on a tough season, it’s nice to celebrate it with the people in the city that I love and am so proud to be a part of.”

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