Frustrations Mount for Andretti Autosport

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Aside from Alexander Rossi’s win at the 100th Indianapolis 500, Andretti Autosport’s 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season has been a forgettable one, and the team is starting to let its frustrations show.

This past weekend’s trip to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the 2016 Honda Indy 200 started out with a mixed bag of qualifying results for Andretti Autosport as the team tried once again to improve its fortunes.

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Ryan Hunter-Reay earned the fourth starting spot on the grid while both Carlos Munoz and Rossi slotted inside the top 15 positions.

But Marco Andretti had one of the worst qualifying performances and wound up starting 21st out of 22 entries.

Unfortunately, the race results were as disparate as their qualifying numbers.

As the final laps ticked down and the race fell toward championship leader Simon Pagenaud, Munoz managed to slip into the final podium spot.

Andretti, who at one point in the race had charged to second place, ended up finishing 13th with Rossi behind him in 14th.

The biggest trouble at the Honda Indy 200 hit the Hunter-Reay and the No. 28 DHL Honda team. After starting near the front of the field and running in the top five for most of the day, a problem in the pits sent him tumbling down the pylon.

Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay is dealing with a mountain of frustration in 2016. Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay is dealing with a mountain of frustration in 2016. Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

An equipment problem caused the team to short-fill his fuel tank, which forced Hunter-Reay to go into serious fuel conservation mode just to make the finish. He ended up coming home 18th.

After the race Hunter-Reay was short on words saying only through a league statement, “I’m so infuriated and frustrated with today’s result. I don’t really want to get into details or discuss it. The DHL car started P4, was strong and should have been on the podium today.”

Even Munoz, after earning the best finish for the team, expressed mounting frustrations. “It’s nice to be back on the podium – it’s been a long time,” he remarked.

And he’s correct. The entire Andretti Autosport team has struggled mightily this season just to stay near the middle of the pack on most race weekends.

Marco Andretti, who is typically one of the lead drivers for the team, has often found himself at the back of the grid on race day and he’s failed to lead even a lap this season.

Hunter-Reay hasn’t finished better than third in any 2016 race, while Mid-Ohio was just Munoz’s second podium of the campaign. Rossi’s victory in the 500 is the only win Andretti can claim so far.

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There’s little promise in the championship standings either. Andretti Autosport and the Herta-Andretti partnership team that backs Rossi’s No. 98 have essentially been eliminated from the title hunt. Munoz is the team’s best hope and he is 156 points behind Pagenaud.

There are only four events left on the schedule and one of them is the postponed Texas race, which is partially completed. The Andretti team will need to provide major results themselves and receive serious help from other teams to get back into the championship conversation.

Given that, Andretti Autosport might just want to close the book on the troublesome 2016 season. The team can cherish its latest Indy 500 victory – and then start looking toward a brighter 2017.