Andretti on the outside looking in on leaders circle money

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — The championship was one race to watch this weekend on the streets of St. Pete, but the bottom of the entrant points was another. There were 22 chairs in the game of musical chairs for leaders circle money. 23 participants were competing for them though.

Seven points separated Sebastien Bourdais’ No. 14 Chevrolet from Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Honda for the fight for 22nd. 

Bourdais qualified 7th with Andretti 23rd. But, near the halfway mark, it was Andretti shining. 

Andretti was making bold maneuvers around the 1.8 mile track and was up to seventh. Bourdais fell to 15th. 

This was a $1 million fight here. 

Then, Takuma Sato got into Andretti’s right rear on the Lap 75 restart and cut it down. Andretti spun and crashed in the next corner and solidified his last place standing in entrant points. Bourdais, finished fourth. 

“I drove my absolute heart out,” Andretti said. “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.”

He lost this fight a couple of weekends ago actually. That’s when this fight got intense. 

Entering the Indy 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 was a battle between Bourdais and Andretti. But some of the cars put veterans in them. 

The 7 car was piloted by Helio Castroneves that weekend in favor of the injured Oliver Askew. They maintained with being +30 as Castroneves was an uneventful 20th and 21st respectively.

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.

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 was now -7 heading into Sunday. 

Bourdais struggled and was only 21st and 18th over the two days but is +7 still, so mission accomplished on that move. 

If the fire doesn’t happen to Andretti at Indy, he likely gets back into the top 22.

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