INDIANAPOLIS — Another underrated points race is the battle for 22nd in the entrant points. See, we have 23 full time teams but only 22 of them get the bonus money for the leaders circle program. With how 2020 has gone, that’s some much needed money on the line.
Entering this weekend, the No. 7 with McLaren was +30. The No. 4 with Foyt was +19. The No. 26 Andretti entry was +15 with the other car (No. 98 entry) +2. The 14 car with Foyt was +1 over the No. 20 ECR entry.
Leaving the weekend, its now a battle between Sebastien Bourdais in the 14 car and Marco Andretti in the 98.
The 7 car was piloted by Helio Castroneves this weekend in favor of the inured Oliver Askew. They maintained with being +30 as Castroneves was an uneventful 20th and 21st respectively.
“The result doesn’t show how much work everyone from Arrow McLaren SP put into this weekend to make sure I was comfortable,” Castroneves said. “We tried a different strategy, and even if the strategy wasn’t right, it was right for me because I could push and understand more of the car on reds (alternate tires). I wish we could have another qualifying and race tomorrow. I can’t thank Sam (Schmidt), Ric (Peterson), Zak (Brown) and Arrow McLaren SP enough for an amazing job. The car is in one piece, which is great. Great experience. Hopefully Oliver (Askew) continues to look after his health.”
Charlie Kimball finished a big 13th on Friday and 23rd on Saturday to go from +19 to +29. The biggest jumpers were James Hinchcliffe who replaces Zach Veach in the 26 for the remainder of the season finishing 14th and 13th respectively and going from +15 to +33. He did his job. So did Conor Daly who was 12th and 20th in the two races and went from one point down to 13 points up.
“It seems like an awful lot of work to only pick up one spot (in points), but with the race length the way it was, and the fuel situation the way it was, everyone was kind of in a similar boat,” Hinchcliffe said. “It was just how and when you use your tires. I think we did a good job in that sense. We had a lot of good races with guys out there. I got bumped off track by Santino (Ferrucci) at one point, which definitely cost a bit of time, and held up by some lapped cars at one point. Ultimately, it was a pretty lock-step race. I’m just happy to bring the Gainbridge car home is a somewhat reasonable position, and it gives us something to build off of for St. Pete.”
Andretti, had a fire in his No. 98 Honda take him out of a top 10 run on Friday to 25th. He was just 22nd on Saturday and is now -7.
Sebastien Bourdais struggled and was only 21st and 18th over the two days but is +7 still, so mission accomplished on that move.
“It was a pretty trying weekend, not where we want to be, but it’s just the beginning of the relationship,” Bourdais said. “We’re hoping to build something and prepare as best as possible for next year. In some respects, we achieved that. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but if it was easy, I may not be here. We have a lot to think about, a lot to go through and analyze and see what may explain what we’ve experienced this weekend.
“Starting from where we started today makes things very difficult, but we were on the right strategy with the two-stopper because everyone who had a halfway-decent day was on the two-stop strategy. Passing was once again extremely difficult. Just a shame we got caught up in some guys’ messes when they tangled and got back on track like (Marcus) Ericsson running off the track and making us lose a couple of positions. We never could recover from that because passing was so difficult. At the end of the day, live and learn. Everybody tried real hard. The mechanics did a great job throwing all the changes that we wanted to try at the car, and that was quite a bit all weekend long. We’ll keep working at it and move forward.”
St. Pete is left with a big fight to be the one not left standing when the music stops.