It was a case of what might of been for Andretti Autosport in the NTT IndyCar Series 2020 season ending Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg on Sunday. Alexander Rossi in the No.27 AutoNation NAPA Auto Parts Honda went into the race having yet to win a race in 2020 and had a great start from second place on the grid and took the lead of the race and retired from the race while leading after going wide on the marbles and hitting the wall.
Speaking following the race Rossi commented saying:
I just lost it in Turn 3, man. It’s been tough all weekend. Just human error. Hugely unfortunate. I think the No. 27 AutoNation Andretti Honda guys were phenomenal. Andretti Autosport was phenomenal all weekend. It’s the first time it’s happened to me, to crash from the lead. I don’t know what to say other than sorry to the boys, and we’ll come back next year.” (About buildup of rubber on track): “It was hard, man, on the restarts and such. That wasn’t what caused it (crash) out there. It just kind of bumped the wrong way, and I couldn’t save it.
Ryan Hunter Reay came through the field from 19th on the grid in the No.28 DHL Honda to finish the race in fifth place and speaking following the race he commented saying:
Despite our starting position, we had a really positive day. We came through the field twice to finish fifth. I’m proud of the DHL boys both on the track and in pit lane today. It’s nice to have a top five to finish the season, but we thought we could have more than that with our pace. We’ll regroup and come back stronger in March.
There was disappointment for James Hinchcliffe in the No.26 Gainbridge Honda as he started the race from fourth place and led the event briefly following a battle with his team mate Colton Herta however an error under caution saw the Mayor of HinchTown run wide and hit Jack Harvey and broke his front wing meaning he fell down the order but recovered to finish the race in 14th place and speaking following the race he commented saying:
“In 16 years of racing cars, I’ve never spun out under caution before. Just my fault. The pace car was going really, really slow, and it was super hard to keep heat in the tires. Going through the last corner there, I was making an adjustment on the wheel and just had one hand on the wheel. Even at 30 mph, you’re going slower than pit lane speed, and the thing spun. It’s my fault, but we were on the radio trying to get the pace car to go faster because the cars were almost harder to drive at pace car speed than they were at race speed. But that’s on me. The worst part is that coming back on track, I did it dangerously and not only hit someone but hit a (Andretti Technologies) teammate. That’s an even bigger black eye. To have a podium car – the guys did such a great job all weekend on the Gainbridge entry, and I was really hoping to give them a strong result to end the year. I’m gutted for the whole team; I’m gutted for Jack (Harvey) – can’t be sorrier than I am for him. Not the way we wanted to end the year, but still some positives to take out of it. We had good pace in qualifying and the race. We had a podium car and just didn’t pull it off today, and that’s on me. Sorry to the team.
Colton Herta in the No.88 Capstone Honda for Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport had a great race and led for a time before he hit the wall but recovered to finish the race in eleventh place and speaking following the race he commented saying:
I’m fairly upset with my performance on track today, but I think throughout the year we did a really good job. I’m really happy to finish P3 in the championship, and hopefully we can carry some of that momentum into next year. But for St. Pete, obviously pretty upset with how it went. I think we had a pretty good shot at a win, and I just messed it up. I’m sorry to guys about that, but overall happy with how the 88 team performed this year.
Marco Andretti was forced to retire from the race due to contact and speaking following the event he commented saying:
I drove my absolutely heart out. We were in a position and would have maybe gained more positions. We were in the money, so to say. I left room to the apex, and I think I just got tagged. We got a flat, and then it was all down from there. We were so much faster; I just can’t believe we are in this position. I’ve never seen a season like we’ve had this year with the misfortunes. Some of it is luck, and some of it is not. We need to work to fix the things that are not. The prep for 2021 starts now.