FONTANA, Calif. – IndyCar championship contender Ryan Hunter-Reay crashed Wednesday while testing at Auto Club Speedway.
Hunter-Reay was making a qualifying run when his Andretti Autosport entry spun in the second turn and scraped the wall.
"The car was pretty loose on the first run and we went out for a second run and probably got a little greedy with it," he said. "As light as we are running on downforce, it just came around, in qualifying trim. It happens. It's part of it. The good news is the car is not that bad."
The Andretti team went to work changing the engine after the crash, which will draw a 10-spot penalty on the starting grid. But teams aren't as concerned about starting position on ovals, where passing is easier.
Hunter-Reay goes into Saturday night's season finale trailing leader Will Power by 17 points. Both drivers are trying to win their first championship, and Hunter-Reay would be the first American to win it since 2006.
He said the accident wasn't a setback. Andretti drivers Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Sebastian Saavedra were still on track gathering data for the organization, and there was enough time in the eight-hour test session for him to get back on track.
Hunter-Reay also hoped the incident "got it out of the way" in terms of tough breaks heading into Saturday.
The race at Fontana is the first for IndyCar since 2005, and the distance was extended to 500 miles. It's one of only two 500-milers on the IndyCar schedule.
It's also only one of five oval tracks on the 15 race schedule, and IndyCar has been working all year to settle into the most suitable aerodynamic package for its new car. It took the entire weekend of the June event at Texas to settle on the right formula, as drivers were skittish about racing on a high-banked oval for the first time since Dan Wheldon's fatal crash last October at Las Vegas.
"I just hope we have a good product for the fans. I hope we have a good race," Hunter-Reay said.