Bummer of a day for the Andrettis at Pocono IndyCar 400
IndyCar team owner and former leading driver Michael Andretti summed his day at Pocono Raceway today in a word -- bummer.
|Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe|
Coming into the Pocono IndyCar 400 race, everything seemed set. The stars were aligned, if you will, for Nazareth native Michael Andretti's Autosport organization to shine in the first IndyCar race at Pocono since 1989.
All of Michael's drivers -- son Marco, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe -- easily won the front row on the starting grid. Marco, of Bushkill Township, dominated all the preliminaries, including winning the pole in record time. But the wheels fell off this baby fast. Hinchcliffe spun into the wall in the first turn of lap 1 and Hunter-Reay was hit by Takuma Sato on pit road.
Then after tearing up the track and leading much of the way, Marco had to soft pedal his RC Cola Chevy down the stretch to save gas.
"Obviously, it didn't work out the way we wanted it to," Michael Andretti said.
Marco wound up 10th on the final tally sheet after leading 88 of the 144 laps. Michael, who retired the third all-time winningest IndyCar driver behind A.J. Foyt and his father Mario Andretti, said all the accolades and headlines his team and drivers were afforded all week did not impress him.
"The whole time Marco was up front, I was waiting for something to happen because it was too perfect for him," Michael said. "Obviously, there it was.
"Like a million times I've been in this position."
The winner of the race, Scott Dixon, and his Ganassi Racing teammates -- Charlie Kimball, who finished second, and third-place Dario Franchitti -- whooped it up over their Top 3 sweep, driving underrated Honda racers.
"Marco had a car that was in a class of its own. It came down to fuel mileage," Michael said. "Ryan was in a good car, too, capable of winning. (Then) Sato did his normal thing."
Hinchcliffe took the blame for his lap 1, first-turn crash.
"We've been over-aggressive in the setup. Maybe we overstepped a bit," Hinchcliffe said.
Marco's gas issues started early when he had to pit for a fill-up before many in the field.
That threw his team's strategy off, leading to his demise as he had to feather foot down the stretch.
"Oh man, I mean we knew early (about our fuel mileage), but not early enough," Marco said. "I think we should have responded quicker, but it's so hard to be reserved."
Marco had been the bright star after sweeping the pole and leading both practice rounds on Saturday.
"I'm so frustrated for (sponsor) RC Cola and everybody," he said. "We were just so dominant and I'm just absolutely gutted."
The Indy car series moves on to Toronto for two point races next weekend.
Helio Castroneves leads the standings heading north with Hunter-Reay second and Marco Andretti third. LehighValleyLive.com