LEEDS, Ala – Marco Andretti vowed to start qualifying better. He was adamant that his No. 98 Honda could contend for race wins if he could get his head out of his rear end in the Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying sessions. See, he’s qualified 18th, 20th and 20th respectively in his first three races of the 2018 season. He would finish ninth, 12th and sixth in those three events.
Andretti said just last Sunday in Long Beach that imagine where he could be if he qualified better.
Well, for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama he did. Andretti, qualified seventh for this weekend’s race at the Barber Motorsports Park. Unfortunately, he made a mistake on his own in spinning in Turn 2. But, he thought at the time it may have been a blessing in disguise. Andretti, came down pit road and got new tires and fuel. He was on an alternate strategy, one that could help aid in him winning on Monday’s rain delayed race.
But, the series allowed the teams to change tires and refuel overnight, meaning that big advantage Andretti and a few others had was gone. That had him puzzled. Instead of having a different strategy, one that could have possibly given him an advantage, he was now just like everyone else and forced to drive through the field with a 14th place restart position.
He’d try for a two stop strategy and end up in the top five, which nearly worked, but he had to pit for wet tires like everyone else late in the race and would finish 10th as a result. He’s ninth in the series standings though, 70 points out, heading to Indy next month.
“It was a lot of fun out there, but I think finishing 10th is the worst we should’ve finished,” Andretti said after the race. “I think myself and the guys earned a third-place finish. We beat (James Hinchcliffe) out in the end – so we had third locked up until the rain made all the one-stoppers work. We were looking really good for a podium; the Kerauno team was way better than what the race results showed, but we know we have the pace, so we’ll keep digging and move on to Indy.”
It was just an all around weird weekend for the third generation driver. He had a fast car, but strategy and an over night rule change kept him from a better finish.