Hunter-Reay disagrees with penalty against him

Ryan Hunter-Reay disagrees with Indycar's decision to punish him. (Chris Young/CP)

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Ryan Hunter-Reay vehemently disagreed with the penalty IndyCar levied against him for a three-car accident at New Orleans.

The series docked the Indianapolis 500 winner three points and placed him on probation for three races for what IndyCar called "avoidable contact" in last Sunday’s race.

"I think it’s BS and I told them that," Hunter-Reay told The Indianapolis Star on Friday at Long Beach.

"I’ve had a lot of guys come to me, a lot of drivers come to me, a lot of ex-drivers come to me, and tell me the same thing … they all disagree with the call."

Simon Pagenaud ran off course as he raced three-wide with Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais following a late restart. When Pagenaud re-entered the racing surface, he slammed into Hunter-Reay, whose car briefly lifted as it hit Bourdais.

All three cars slid off course, with Pagenaud and Bourdais hitting tire barriers. Pagenaud maintained Hunter-Reay ran him off the track; Hunter-Reay insisted Pagenaud ran out of racing surface.

"This is a bad call," said Hunter-Reay, "and I had a talk with the stewards, and I think they get it."

The penalty still held on the opening day of the Long Beach Grand Prix, where Hunter-Reay went into the weekend ranked 14th in the standings.

Hunter-Reay started from the pole at Long Beach last year and led 51 laps in what was a dominating showing for Andretti Autosport. But he triggered a seven-car crash that took out both Hunter-Reay and then-teammate James Hinchcliffe.

That accident left team owner Michael Andretti shaking his head in disgust because the accident wiped out two of his cars, and team owner Sarah Fisher fumed on Twitter about Josef Newgarden’s day being ruined.

"At the end of the day, patience is a virtue and someone wasn’t very virtuous. It was a rookie move," Hinchcliffe said that day.

Hunter-Reay told The Star on Friday that he doesn’t care what people think about him, or if he was at fault last week at New Orleans. And he said he proved that in 2014 when he won at Barber a week after the Long Beach incident, then added an Indianapolis 500 victory two races later.

"I am not the person who really cares what people think about me," he told The Star. "If you look back at my career, what I had to deal with, that’s peanuts compared to the stuff I’ve had to deal with. Like last year here at Long Beach, right? What happened there? I came out the next race and won — which goes to show you I don’t get into a mental trap when people think bad things about me."

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