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Alongside Hunter-Reay: The confidence factor

10.24.2012 (Via Dave Lewandowski, IndyCar.com) - Second in a series looking at the IZOD IndyCar Series championship season of Ryan Hunter-Reay through various eyes. Today, his race engineer and crew chief weigh in on the confidence factor.

That confidence exuded by Ryan Hunter-Reay not only aided the Andretti Autosport driver on his course to the IZOD IndyCar Series title, but blanketed all team members down to fellow drivers Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe as the drama-filled season came to a climax at Auto Club Speedway.

Crew chief Josh Freund witnessed it. Race engineer Ray Gosselin felt it like never before in his three seasons working with the 31-year-old Floridian. Evolved from experience, maturity, determination – most likely equal parts all three – it was perceptible and viral.

“He’s comfortable and he was confident and then the confidence really exploded after we won one, then we won two,” says Freund, who also has been a member of the No. 28 car crew for three years. “You just saw him change. I wouldn’t say all of us never believed that we could (win the title), but it was like we have this so put it on our shoulders and let’s go.

“We never got uptight. He never got wound up. He might have been a little nervous deep down inside but he never showed it and we never caught on. We just kept it loose. To me, he just had that confidence inside this year and that was the biggest different from years past.”

Gosselin points to Hunter-Reay’s lean years of racing – that period after losing a Champ Car ride in 2005 to before joining then-Rahal Letterman Racing for a partial 2007 IZOD IndyCar Series season as an agent to his mind-set.

“From working on the car, you take a lot away from his determination,” Gosselin adds. “You want to make sure you’re holding up your end of the deal because he’s holding up his end. That permeates through the team.

“I want to make sure I’m giving him the best car I can because as we’ve seen when we do we get some pretty good results. He never gives up, and that’s the way it should be in sports until you’re told it’s over. We could have a bad weekend like Sonoma, which couldn’t have gone worse from the championship standpoint. But we’re going to do something at Baltimore. We don’t know what but it will happen.

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