May 26, 2013, 5:50 PM EST
They were the dominant team of this year’s month of May in Indianapolis. And yet, somehow, it all ended so empty for Andretti Autosport.
Colombian rookie Carlos Munoz repeated his heroics of qualifying as he finished second after starting there. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti finished just behind in third and fourth, but were out of position and firmly “in the wrong place at the wrong time” toward the end of the race. E.J. Viso had his best 500 appearance but ended only 18th after a pit stop stall, while James Hinchcliffe was the team’s only non-factor, with a near spin off Turn 2 and a disappointing 21st place result.
All five drivers combined to lead the race for a total of 81 laps (Andretti 31, Hunter-Reay 26, Munoz 12, Hinchcliffe 7 and Viso 5). But it was where Hunter-Reay, Munoz and Andretti were all stationed for the thrilling climax of the race that ultimately proved their demise.
On lap 197, Hunter-Reay restarted first ahead of eventual race winner Tony Kanaan, with Munoz third and Andretti fourth. Hunter-Reay was a sitting duck on the restart and Kanaan blew past, with Munoz following suit shortly thereafter.
“We were leading and the rest is history,” Hunter-Reay admitted. “When you’re up front leading, especially on a restart, you might as well be driving a bulldozer. Everybody came on by. I’m actually happy we got third. I figured with that restart, being first, we would have been shuffled back to fourth or so.”
Given the way the race had transpired, with lead changes happening nearly every lap, if not more than once during a lap, Hunter-Reay had reason to feel aggrieved.
He led 13 times for 26 laps and had it not been for the final caution when Dario Franchitti crashed, Hunter-Reay could have repassed Kanaan to take the lead back. All that said, Hunter-Reay was fine with the race ending under yellow, given the tradition of just 200 laps and 500 miles for Indianapolis.
“This is Indy, there’s a certain way things are done. If tradition is tradition, we don’t materialize results, we don’t try to produce results out of green-white-checkereds. It can be a bit gimmicky.”
Munoz, who ended best of all five drivers, was the month’s revelation. Showing the sign and grit of determination, he was actually disappointed with second – ironic given he didn’t mind ending fourth on Friday in the dramatic conclusion to the Firestone Indy Lights Freedom 100!
“I really wanted to fight for the win, maybe I could win, maybe not, but I really wanted to fight,” Munoz said. “Hopefully in the future, I will be able to drink milk. Right now, I’m thirsty.”
Andretti, once again, seemed the presumptive favorite heading into Sunday. And once again, he came up short. A positive takeaway is that he now leads the points by 11 over Takuma Sato, but it was small consolation.
“It was unfortunate as I fell to the back late. It’s very frustrating,” he admitted to ABC post-race. “But if anyone deserves a win it’s him (Kanaan).”
Viso was another who had a shot but a stall on a lap 154 pit stop cost him any chance. Hinchcliffe’s dirt-tracking escapades around the halfway mark, where he caught the car on exit of Turn 2, was symptomatic of a rare day where his usually stellar GoDaddy crew just missed the setup.
The positive is that Michael Andretti’s team could afford to be disappointed with three of its cars in the top five. Of course, at Indy, winning is really the only thing that matters.
Mar 8, 2014, 3:25 PM EST
The F1 supremo and the Russian president talk in Sochi, site of this fall’s Russian Grand Prix.
New online network prepares to launch, will feature lower-tier NASCAR series, sports cars, motorcycle racing
Mar 8, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
A new online-only network that will focus on some of NASCAR’s lower-tier series, as well as similar series in sports car and motorcycle racing, will make its debut this Wednesday, March 12.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
The 2012 Sprint Cup champion writes about perhaps the most critical opportunity of his career.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:10 PM EST
Ty Dillon will pace the field in this afternoon’s 2014 Boyd Gaming 200 Nationwide Series race, having earned his first career NNS pole Saturday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Mar 8, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
First his truck made it into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Now, NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace hopes someday he’ll be reunited with the truck if he is fortunate enough to make the Hall of Fame as an inductee.
Mar 8, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
The cars mark the 25th anniversary of the partnership between the department store giant and the legendary race team.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:51 PM EST
Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer were fastest in Saturday morning’s first of two Sprint Cup practice sessions for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:27 PM EST
Jimmie Johnson has seen a big change in Dale Earnhardt Jr. this season, particularly in confidence.
Mar 8, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
The winds of change are blowing over Formula 1 in 2014 – but there’s far more to it than smaller engines and ugly noses.
Mar 8, 2014, 11:15 AM EST
American prospect secures a test in Abu Dhabi next week for F1′s feeder series.
Mar 8, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
No new teams for 2014, but plenty of driver changes, staff signings and engine supplier switches creates an interesting dynamic for the new F1 season.
Mar 8, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Former F1 driver believes that losses of Raikkonen, Allison, Boullier and de Beer will hit Lotus hard.
Mar 8, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
Race at Port Imperial is still on the cards, whilst a return to Magny-Cours is expected in 2015.
Mar 8, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Fan favorite returns to F1 in 2014 after a year away in the World Endurance Championship.
Mar 8, 2014, 7:15 AM EST
Hamilton and Rosberg look to end Red Bull’s dominance in 2014, and if testing is anything to go by, it could well be the year of the Silver Arrows.
Mar 8, 2014, 6:30 AM EST
Breaking Alberto Ascari’s sixty year record of nine straight wins could prove to be too big an ask for Vettel in Australia.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:33 AM EST
Friends and family of Dick Trickle are looking to build a memorial to honor the late stock car racing legend in his hometown of tiny Rudolph, Wis.
Mar 8, 2014, 2:05 AM EST
Could sibling rivalry one day extend to the Indianapolis 500? Kurt Busch will become the first NASCAR driver in a decade to run the proverbial “double” in May: the Indy 500 in the early afternoon and the most grueling race on the Sprint Cup schedule that evening, the Coca-Cola 600.
Mar 8, 2014, 1:45 AM EST
What is it about NASCAR drivers and hockey?
Mar 8, 2014, 1:21 AM EST
We’re not saying that his fans are going to go out and bet the farm, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. has some pretty good odds heading into Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- Instead of significant improvement, 2014 starting off the way 2013 ended for Danica Patrick (10)
- Kurt Busch gives IndyCar chance to show they’ve learned lesson on promotion (10)
- Chrysler orders nearly 100 pristine Dodge Vipers destroyed (7)
- Alonso discovers an F1 take on Ellen’s Oscar “Selfie” (6)
- Disastrous day for Red Bull as Vettel manages just half a lap (5)