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September 23, 2017

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Hunter-Reay first American to make it three in a row by winning Toronto

TORONTO -- Flat oval, banked oval or street course, the Midwest or Canada: Ryan Hunter-Reay is proving he can dominate anywhere on the IndyCar circuit.

Hunter-Reay became the first American-born driver in six years to win three straight IndyCar races, taking the Honda Indy Toronto under caution Sunday. In the process, he took over the series points lead and, with five races left, finds himself in position to become the first American to win the title since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006.

"Three in a row, I don't know what to think about this," Hunter-Reay said. "We just need to really enjoy it. It's nice to have realized that we're in this position. And this is what I've always wanted. But now we have to take hold of it and go get it done."

Starting from the sixth position, Hunter-Reay took the lead for good on the 57th lap. He then managed to avoid a series of pileups following a restart on the 82nd lap of the 85-lap race.

The trouble began when Sebastien Bourdais was sent into the wall by Charlie Kimball on Turn 1. A few seconds later, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe, Simon Pagenaud, Ed Carpenter and Marco Andretti became entangled in two crashes on Turn 3.

Hunter-Reay made it through the first turn, just beating Kimball to the corner and holding him off before the yellow flags came out. Kimball was second, followed by Mike Conway.

"That's Toronto," Hunter-Reay said. "Turn 3 is mayhem corner."

Hunter-Reay's had success in Toronto, having finished third in each of the past two seasons on the narrow, twisting 1.75-mile street course. And he also has the advantage of having Andretti Autosport team owner, Michael Andretti, who holds the course record with seven wins.

"What can I say, I love Toronto," Andretti said.

As for the roll his driver's on, Andretti said: "I think he's a real factor in the championship. He's really strong on these types of tracks as well. He doesn't have a weakness when he's driving."

Coming off wins at Milwaukee and Iowa, Hunter-Reay joined the late Dan Wheldon among Andretti drives to win three straight races. Hunter-Reay is the first American to win three straight since AJ Allmendinger in 2006, whose third victory also came in Toronto.

And Hunter-Reay continued his surge up the standings, moving 34 points ahead of Will Power, who finished 15th, and 46 ahead of Helio Castroneves, who moved into third place after a sixth-place finish.

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