Ryan Hunter Reay crossed the finish line first Sunday to win his first Indy 500. But, it was his mini-me son, Ryden, who won the hearts of viewers worldwide as he joined his mom and dad after the win to fulfill the tradition of kissing the brick finish line.
Reay won the coveted prize and the opportunity to kiss the finish line after pulling ahead of Helio Castroneves in a nail-biting final lap.
“I’m a proud American boy, that’s for sure,” Hunter-Reay said. “I’ve watched this race since I was sitting in diapers on the floor in front of the TV. My son did it today. He watched me here. I’m thrilled. This is American history, this race, this is American tradition.”
Ryden, born shortly after Hunter-Reay’s 2012 IndyCar championship, celebrated the traditional kissing of the bricks with his parents wearing a miniature version of his dad’s fire suit.
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Reay is the sixth American driver in 20 years to win the Indy 500.
“I’m real. I’m genuine. There’s not a whole lot theatrics about me,” Hunter-Reay said Monday.
“I’m not going to put on a whole big show and jump through hoops. I’m going to be me, and I am thrilled to be here. I’m a hard-charging American and I’ve had to fight every step of my career for this ride.”
Castroneves was devastated by the loss and needed several moments to compose himself before he was ready to speak.
“It was a great fight. I tell you what, I was having a great time. Unfortunately second. It’s good, but second sucks, you know what I mean?” he said. “At the end of the day there’s stupid and bravery, and I think we were right there on the edge, both of us. I’m glad we both come out in a good way. I’m sad it did not come out the way I wanted.”
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