Andretti Autosport’s Rob Edwards shared the same reaction as plenty of people after the costly and carnage-filled Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“We’re obviously all hoping that in Texas, all the unfortunate stuff that just happened at St. Pete means we got the crashing out of the way and we won’t be dealing with it again,” Andretti’s COO told RACER.
The Andretti team entered the race with four pristine cars and closed the weekend with two returning on the back of tow trucks and the other two owning a long list of items to replace and repair before the next event. From its quartet of Dallara DW12s, one was lost when A.J. Foyt Racing’s Benjamin Pedersen speared into Andretti’s Devlin DeFrancesco at nearly unabated speed in the huge Turn 3 wreck that took five cars out of the race in an instant.
“There was lots of damage,” Edwards said. “Not going to get out of it very easy, but fortunately, we’ve got three weeks before we’re before we’re back on the track again. Devlin is going to need a new tub, for sure. I don’t know what was going on there, but clearly someone didn’t realize that they needed to brake. We’re very happy Dev’s OK.”
At least three tubs — the driver safety cell, as it’s sometimes referred to — were said to be destroyed on Sunday, with Pedersen’s car included on that unfortunate list.
“Devlin’s tub was a brand-new tub to start the year so the cost-per-mile on that one’s pretty high,” Edwards said. “The rest are mostly suspensions and front wings. I hope the front wing elves are busy at Dallara because I’m sure across the field, St. Pete’s probably going to deplete everything that they have in stock.”
Once the purchases and repair bills are in, the Andretti team could be looking at an opening weekend that produced $500,000 in damage. Andretti affiliate team Meyer Shank Racing, which makes use of Andretti Technologies’ engineering support for its two entries, was singing a similar tune. Both of its cars were dangling from the back of tow trucks in the paddock — appearing more than an hour after the race — when its duo were taken out in the same first-lap crash that destroyed DeFrancesco’s tub.
Factor in all of the other mayhem that seemingly visited every IndyCar team at least once, and St. Pete’s collective race day damage total is well into seven figures.
“We have eight corners on our IndyCars, right?” Mike Shank said. “Of the eight, six of them are gone. Completely torn up. The wings, too. I’m laughing now, because what else am I going to do? And I’m not the only guy staring at a bunch of my equipment that’s bent and broken right now. There were a lot of us at St. Pete with a lot of beaten-up cars. It wasn’t pretty.
“If you think about it, Rob [Edward’s] got his four cars torn up, and we’ve got both of ours…what are the odds on all six Andretti-related cars getting taken out in the same race? It’s insane. I think [Kyle] Kirkwood was the only one of our six cars to keep going, but he went for one hell of a ride and had to get some repairs done first. I don’t know if anybody got away completely clean at that one.”
The field will reconvene at Texas Motor Speedway to open April for IndyCar’s next race, and for teams like Andretti Autosport with a lot of cars to rebuild, there’s ample time to complete their work. But for approximately half of the field, a lot of long days and nights are on the docket this week as a private test is on the schedule for next Monday at Barber Motorsports Park.
“It’s our test day and there’s a bunch of cars that will be there with us,” Shank said. “Nobody’s going home early this week, I can tell you. And for those of us with IMSA teams, we’ve got the 12 Hours of Sebring too, next week, so if there was a time where we didn’t need to be fixing a bunch of broken-up IndyCars, it’s now. But what can you do? You just try to laugh it off and do the work and hope it doesn’t happen again right away.”
This story has been updated since its original publication with a revised repair estimate from Andretti Autosport.