May 26, 2013, 5:50 PM EDT
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.
Sep 23, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell sits down with NBCSN’s Marty Snider to go over all the details.
Sep 23, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Pagenaud reveals that he’s made his decision on where he’ll drive in next year’s Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
Sep 23, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
Rodolfo Gonzalez tests for Dale Coyne Racing in IndyCar.
Sep 23, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
NASCAR AMERICA discusses how the defending Sprint Cup champion has been flying under the radar in the early stages of the postseason.
Sep 23, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
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Sep 23, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
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Sep 23, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT
Where does everyone in the Chase besides Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have to finish Sunday in order to go to the next round?
Sep 23, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT
Points shift after second-to-last IMSA weekend of 2014 in Austin.
Sep 23, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
All the notes and numbers to keep in mind going into Sunday’s Challenger Round finale.
Sep 23, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT
NASCAR’s top series is set to experience multiple changes next season.
Sep 23, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT
Truex has suffered eight DNFs in 2014 while driving BK’s No. 83 Toyota Camry.
Sep 23, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Formula One dropped the Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam last year after several seasons of bad attendance and money loss.
Sep 23, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
Martin Brundle’s retort to Christian Horner a great bit of levity from Singapore.
Sep 23, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
Not that we needed further evidence that Circuit of the Americas is awesome, but riding shotgun with Dindo Capello in Audi provides us said further evidence.
Sep 23, 2014, 10:38 AM EDT
Mike Conway is operating from a position of strength as he looks to continue open-wheel/sports car balance into 2015.
Sep 23, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT
Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Briscoe, Bourdais set for Petit Le Mans appearances.
Sep 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
They’ve already got the IndyCar title. But can Team Penske claim the Sprint Cup as well this season?
Sep 22, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
It hasn’t always been easy for Logano since he broke into the Sprint Cup Series in 2009. But there’s no disputing that the kid once known as “Sliced Bread” (as in, greatest thing since) has grown up.
Sep 22, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
Two teams on the opposite ends of the Chase spectrum head for the Lone Star State.
Sep 22, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
A wild doubleheader in Los Angeles has left Block with an 18-point edge over Wiman as the series heads for Seattle.
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