INDIANAPOLIS — Marco Andretti went with a different plan for this year’s Month of May. Last August, he was quick in every session. It was a false sense of security though. After earning the pole, Andretti found out on Carb Day last year that his No. 98 Honda had no chance. His car just wasn’t good enough and it showed.
So, for this time around, he said they’d put him in some uncomfortable situations in practice to get his car better on race day. The problem was, it took them until after he qualified to find out that his car wasn’t right for good measure. They changed the entire floor of his car and off it went. He was 10th in practice last Sunday. Fifth on Carb Day. The only problem was that he didn’t have a great starting spot. He’d only finish 19th, the second best among Andretti cars though.
That last sentence is a microcosm of how bad Sunday was for the organization. Colton Herta qualified on the front row. Ryan Hunter-Reay came from seventh and Alexander Rossi in 10th. James Hinchcliffe rolled off 16th and Stefan Wilson in 28th.
Herta, looked good early but faded in the end. He finished 16th in his No. 26 Honda. Hinchcliffe was 21st. The other three were greatly affected by pit lane.
Wilson lost control of his No. 25 Honda and crashed on his first pit stop at pit entry. He’d finish last in 33rd. That affected Rossi in a sense in that he had yet to pit and almost ran out of gas while the safety crews worked on cleaning up the accident. By virtue of that, pit road remained closed for a lengthy period of time. Rossi, had to pit during that portion. His No. 27 Honda stalled causing him to lose a lap as they struggled to get it refired. He’d never make up for it and come home 29th.
Then, Ryan Hunter-Reay who was running inside the top five coming to pit lane for his final time was caught speeding. He went from a shot at the win to finishing as the last car on the lead lap in 22nd in his No. 28 Honda.
16-19-21-22-29-33. Not good. Especially after having so many cars up front last year and none of them coming home in the top five. It further adds to the frustrating start to the 2021 season for them.
Herta and Hunter-Reay crashed on the opening lap at Barber. Rossi, was on the wrong pit sequence and went from second to finishing barely inside of the top 10. The next race in St. Pete, Hinchcliffe and Rossi were collected in on track incidents while Hunter-Reay had a mediocre day. In Texas, Hinchcliffe crashed in race 1 and Rossi on the opening lap of race 2.
They felt like with double points at Indy, this could be their shot at making up on their lost ground. Now, they’ve only sunk deeper. Herta, is seventh but 94 points out in the standings. Rossi, is 15th (-147), Hunter-Reay is 17th (-154) and Hinchcliffe is 24th (-174).
This season may now be just finding ground for 2022.