Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi were in position for what could have been an epic teammate battle for the win in Saturday’s first race of the Detroit Grand Prix. But Scott Dixon’s fortunately timed stop during a green-flag pit cycle on lap 46 – and two solid restarts – left some of IndyCar’s hungriest drivers disappointed once again in not securing a win.
“I guess you gotta be happy, right?” said Marco Andretti, who wound up fourth after earning his first-ever pole on a road or street course and leading 22 laps. “You know, we went backwards today and that’s not what we wanted to do. The frustrating part was my teammates beating me; we gotta stop that from happening. It’s getting frustrating.
“You hate to go backwards. We definitely wanted another trophy, I haven’t had a podium in while and that’s been getting to me, let alone the win. We’ll do some homework tonight on how we can improve on the race today and do better tomorrow. We want to get the pole tomorrow.”
Hunter-Reay was leading when he ducked into the pits after Dixon on lap 46, followed shortly after by Rossi and Andretti, who surrendered top-five spots. Dixon’s sub-seven-second stop was enough to give him the lead when Graham Rahal hit the wall on lap 48. Dixon got a solid jump on Hunter-Reay on the restart with 17 to go, and did so again with 10 to go after rookie Santino Ferrucci’s crash.
“[Scott and I] were pretty evenly matched, I think,” said Hunter-Reay, who started fifth. “I had a bit better run through Turn 1 and 2 on the [final] restart, so I closed on him there. I really needed some overtake at that point, Push-to-Pass, but we’re not allowed to use it at that point. That would have been the difference for me, I think, to have a run on him.
“Just in his dirty air, I couldn’t make the run through the higher-speed corners to stay close enough. It’s unfortunate. We came up close. I thought in the middle of the race we were logging fastest lap of the race after fastest lap of the race that we were going to come out in a pretty good position. I was hoping for better than we were. But it was close.
“But all in all, a good day, second. Just want a win, so it’s a feeling I’m coming up a bit short.”
Rossi started fourth and got around Andretti to take the last podium spot, but that was as far forward as he could go.
“For sure [the podium was my goal,” Rossi said. “I think that I was stuck behind that car for most of the race, so we had the opportunity, we were quite a bit stronger in Turn 1 and 2, so I just kind of tried to maximize that as much as possible, and I was glad we were able to get it done. Great to be back on the podium.
“The whole NAPA Know-How team and the Ruoff Mortgage guys really deserve that after what’s been a really long stretch of May and seemingly a long time since we’ve been on the podium. Hats off to them. They had great pit stops, we had a good car, and it also speaks to the strength of Andretti Autosport to be second, third and fourth and Honda to be in the top six, it’s a good day for all our partners, for sure.”