ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – Marco Andretti was well on his way to a top five finish in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete. He was on the right pit strategy and was running in the top five near the mid portion of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season opener.
Unfortunately, some bad luck on his pit sequence led him to a ninth place finish in his No. 98 Honda.
Andretti, had the pace all weekend. But like this luck in the race, he was always getting fast runs and catching traffic at the wrong time.
He short pitted on one of his stints to get on better tires and on his next stop, he found traffic coming out of the pits on the 1.8-mile track.
“In the beginning, we seemed to have pace on (Firestone alternate) reds,” Andretti said of his top 10. “Then, sort of got caught on blacks (Firestone primary tires) in the middle and it gave up a bit of time. On the last third of the early-on stint, we started to lose pace on reds so we wanted to come in and cover. We sort of split the baby on that one. We came out of the pits in traffic, which was unfortunate, but we drove the Ruoff Home Mortgage car to third from 18th. We had to have been the ones to pass the most cars today. Overall, we’re still top 10 and we had pace, and that’s better than lucking into a top-10 finish. Good things are ahead from the No. 98.”
Still, Andretti can hang his hat high on what should be a much better season. The new car seems to suit his driving style and it appears that the entire Andretti Autosport team will be forces to be reckoned with. While he was in the top five, so were two of his teammates.
Andretti, will end his winless streak in 2018.