Andretti Autosport’s 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season got off to a very good start at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg in Florida on Sunday.
Following a tough warm up on Sunday morning which saw Ryan Hunter Reay suffer a rear brake failure and hit the tyre barrier at turn 10, the team were able to repair his car and as a result he took his slot in 12th place on the grid for the 110 lap race.
Hunter Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda avoided the first corner incident and went on to finish the race in fourth place just behind Scott Dixon. Speaking following the race, Hunter Reay stated:
It was a wild weekend. From the ups and downs of braking issues in second practice and then warmup this morning, we definitely earned this one. We fixed engine calibration issues early on (in the race), got out in front of the pace car by about a second or two keeping us on the lead lap. To finish today fourth was just awesome. This No. 28 DHL Honda team has done a great job all day. To fight back like that, I had to keep coming spot after spot really earning it, then there at the end I got that spot back from my teammate Sato. We had a lot of fun out there driving every last drop out of the car, and it’s great to be back in the role and into the swing of things. Hopefully we can get the DHL Honda team back on the podium where we belong, but a fourth-place finish is a good start. This whole team has done a great job; Andretti Autosport has been working hard. We had some great pace, showed good promise and I’m looking forward to the next race.
New Andretti Autosport driver, Takuma Sato in the No.26 Honda started the race from fifth place and that is where he finished and speaking following the race he commented by saying:
“I think it was a tremendous effort by everyone on the team. I’ve probably had one of the hardest Fridays, so it was a difficult and challenging weekend. I definitely think my teammates helped me and the whole engineering team. Given the circumstances, I think we did the best we could in qualifying and I was extremely happy with the result. Today was a tough race, but I think a fourth and fifth place finish for Andretti Autosport is a fantastic result, especially for my first race with the team.
Marco Andretti started Sunday’s race from 15th place despite having a strong Friday and went on to finish the event in seventh place which was his best finish here since 2013 when he finished the race in third place.
Speaking following the race he commented by saying:
We started P15; I would’ve liked to have seen a better pace. We were struggling overall with grip, not going one way or the other. We hung on to salvage a top with seventh, and that’s what we needed to do on days like this. After qualifying where we did, you gotta take a top 10. We also got a yellow in our favor today and that’s what it’s going to take to be just as lucky as good. Hopefully we can be both all year and stay strong in points for the hhgregg team.
Alexander Rossi in the No.98 NAPA Auto Parts Honda started the race from eighth place and finished the event just outside the top ten in 11th place after suffering a puncture which harmed his race strategy and speaking following the race, Rossi commented by saying:
I think our pace was as good as the guys that finished in top five. We got caught up on the first yellow, then had a punctured tire on the third stint which hurt us through that stint. We had to come in early because the tire was going down, and by pitting early we had to save a huge amount of fuel at the end and couldn’t attack anything. I generally think the NAPA AUTO PARTS car and pace was good today, just two unfortunate circumstances that dictated the end result.