Indianapolis (AFP) – Alexander Rossi saved one powerful result for Andretti Autosport.
Other than that, another Indianapolis 500 was miserable – and potentially expensive – for Michael Andretti, who had five cars starting on Sunday. Four of them finished 19th or worse, but Rossi led from 20th to 5th for Andretti.
Not good enough for the team owner, who ceded the IndyCar title with 11 races remaining this season.
“Alex did a great job. He saved us from a disaster,” Andretti told The Associated Press. “It wasn’t a great month and the worst of it was that the championship is pretty much out of reach.”
This came after May began making such a promise to the organization. Colton Herta, a rising star from California, won the IndyCar Grand Prix two weeks ago. But nothing has gone quite right since then, at least in the double points race.
All five of Andretti’s cars struggled to find speed. Herta blew out an engine in qualifying and destroyed his car on Carb Day, and Marco Andretti was also poor in qualifying. Only 500 novice Romain Grosjean managed to shoot the 12-car center.
Sunday’s results added to the team’s problems. Herta said IndyCar officials stopped his car because it was running too slowly; Andretti said there was a problem with the throttle. That was not all.
We were too loose, I was weaker on an oval like this, so it was frustrating,” said Herta, who settled in 30th. “Now all you can think about is what if (the Carpe Day accident) hadn’t happened.”
Grosjean was one of three drivers to spin through the tough second turn of the track, crashing into the outer wall about halfway through the race. He finished thirty-first.
Marco Andretti suddenly found himself in front three laps late when other drivers – his first in Indy since 2014 – came to a halt – but settled into 22nd place after he also needed to stop. Rookie Devlin Di Francesco ended up in 19th place.
But Rossi, the 2016 Indy Award winner, almost got the plan done perfectly.
“When you get closer, you start to hope and dream about bigger things but that wasn’t supposed to be today,” Rossi said.
Otherwise, it was just another day filled with more bad luck for Andretti. Mario Andretti’s 1969 victory remains the only Indy 500 victory that spans three generations of Andretti racing.
“No one knows that better than me,” said Michael Andretti.
Roger Pinske, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, celebrated his first 500 cars at full power with a crowd exceeding 300,000.
Penske’s team was unable to get him back on the path to victory.
After putting only one driver, Australian Will Power, in the penalty shootout last weekend, none of the team’s three drivers finished in the top 10.
Joseph Newgarden led the charge in 13th with Bauer slipping from 11th to 16th. Penske’s most competitive car, Scott McLaughlin’s #3 Chevrolet, finished 29th after the New Zealander hit the third lap wall, skidded on the track, through the grass and hit the fourth lap wall twice with 48 laps.
Despite running hard at Indy in the last two Mays and qualifying third for the 500, 21-year-old Dutch driver Rinus Veekay was the first driver to come out when he hit the wall of the second turn at Lap 39.
“The car took off, and once that happens, you can’t do anything,” said Ed Carpenter Racing driver. “Just a bummer really. I thought I had a good chance at it. It just surprised me.”
Callum Ellot, the 23-year-old rookie from England, also crashed in the second round in what looked very similar to Vichai. Ellot, who is driving a #77 Chevy for Juncos Hollinger Racing, was hit in his right hand but was not seriously injured.
Grosjean and seven-time Cup champ Jimmy Johnson may have been the most famous names in the junior sevens field, but 20-year-old David Mallukas was the cutest.
Malukas qualified 13th in Dale Coyne’s #18, starting in 13th and driving a clean race, completing all 200 laps to finish 16th – ahead of Kyle Kirkwood, a rookie with AJ Foyt Enterprises.
“It was absolutely fantastic,” said Mallukas, who walked in a spare car after a virtually crash on Friday. “They told me to go 95% to the finish and that’s what I did. But now I realize this track picks the winner. In a three-hour race, there are so many chances for things to happen and the field is so good that if you make a small mistake, you lose five places.”
For the second year in a row, Connor Daly found himself in contention of late.
The driving Indianapolis native drove Ed Carpenter’s stepson to Speedway President Doug Bulls from 18th to 6th thanks to some great moves and sound strategy.
“There was a lot of smart work on our part and the car was fast,” he said. “I thought our balance was better than the others and we managed to get past some people in the pits. We got a lucky yellow one that beat us past some people. We lost a little bit on that last hole.”
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