Again this year, Hunter-Reay qualified in the middle of the pack. He'll start 16th on Sunday in his yellow, Honda-powered No. 28 car prepared by the Andretti Autosport team.
"I'm just worried about the race," Hunter-Reay said. "We wanted to stay inside the top 20 [in qualifying]; we started 19th last year, and that turned out OK."
And in final practice Friday, the 34-year-old Hunter-Reay posted only the 31st-fastest time as his team used the one-hour session more to prepare for Sunday's 200-lap race than to set down the fastest lap.
Drivers typically like to start up front and stay there, both in hopes of avoiding crashes and because the cars tend to perform better when they're not racing in "dirty air" caused by the turbulence of other cars.
But Will Power, the Australian driver who starts second Sunday, said Hunter-Reay offered a textbook example in 2014 of how starting mid-pack can still pay off.