The IndyCar series has been dominated by the two teams of Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske. Michael Andretti has a solid team that at times appeared capable of competing with the powerhouse duo. However, after the dominant showing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Andretti Autosport all but put a period on just who is the best team in American open wheel racing.
At the Indy 500, an Andretti Autosport driver was on the front row, James Hinchcliffe, but it was the ability of the other four cars on the team that proved Michael Andretti has put together an excellent organization with four cars in the top six and now three drivers in the top six in IndyCar series point standings. Andretti Autosport is truly the team to beat in Indy Car.
Dominance at the top
Ryan Hunter-Reay took home the Borg Warner Trophy with his first Indy 500 win of his career and now sits atop the series point standings. Though he started only 19th, he quickly worked up through the field and had the fastest car at the end. And although Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves gave a gallant try at winning the memorable race, Hunter-Reay was able to hold him off by six hundredths.
Marco Andretti was up near the front all day and finished third after starting on the outside of row two. Seemingly right behind Andretti, second year Andretti Autosport driver Carlos Munoz, who is only 22 years of age, was fourth when the checker flag flew. NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran Kurt Busch, who drove both this race and the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte later in the day, was able to work his way up to an impressive sixth, even though he had never raced in an IndyCar before Sunday’s 500. Hinchcliffe was a frontrunner early in the event but a daredevil move with about 25 laps to go, took him and Pole-sitter Ed Carpenter out of the race.
Badluck be damned
Hinchcliffe’s wreck notwithstanding, this was as dominant showing by one team in quite awhile. And this is saying a lot considering the Andretti family has not always had that much luck at Indianapolis. Except for Mario’s win 45 years ago, they haven’t been able to sip the milk at the famed speedway. Michael never won even though he had the car to win multiple times. Marco has been close but has not win won an Indy 500. Still, this is Michael’s third victory as an owner, following Dario Franchitti’s win in ’07 and Dan Wheldon’s victory in ’05. Back then, the team was known as Andretti Green, so Hunter-Reay’s win marks Andretti Autosport’s first.
Certainly, powerful teams like Ganassi and Penske will be gunning more than ever for the new team to beat, but clearly Michael Andretti has assembled a formidable foe for the two dynastic teams. Andretti Autosport is a rising super team and the empire that Michael has built appears more than proficient enough to take on Chip and Roger for years to come.
Michael is probably the best driver to never win the Indy 500 and whether his son Marco can ever win the ultimate race and shove the Andretti curse back into oblivion is still to be played out. Nevertheless, Michael Andretti has visibly emerged with Andretti Autosport as the team to beat in IndyCar.
Sources: Andretti Autosport, IndyCar