IndyCar - Andretti Autosport Race Report Motegi
MOTEGI, Sept. 18, 2011: Marco Andretti scored his best road course finish of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series when he drove the No. 26 Team Venom Energy Drink car to third place Sunday in the Indy Japan finale at Twin Ring Motegi.
Andretti, the Iowa oval winner in June, started tenth and drove brilliantly to return to the podium after 63 laps at the 2.98-mile, 14-turn road circuit. Scott Dixon and Will Power finished in front of Andretti Sunday. Andretti's previous 2011 best road racing finishes were fourth at Brazil and Toronto. The third place finish moved Andretti into seventh in the current IZOD IndyCar Series point standings with two races remaining on the 17-race campaign. Marco is now just 25 points from the top-five in the standings.
Mike Conway, the Long Beach champion, fought his way from 20th to record a ninth place finish Sunday in a spirited drive in the No. 27 Team @FollowAndretti entry. Conway ran as high as fifth on lap 42 but was forced off the course on lap 55. The personable Brit came from 12th to ninth in the last eight laps.
Danica Patrick, driving the No. 7 Team GoDaddy.com car, drove from 23rd to place 11th as she battles to get into the top-ten in the point standings. With this finish, Patrick extended her series record of 49 consecutive races without a DNF.
The hard luck award went to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was attempting to score his eighth straight top-ten finish in the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda machine. Hunter-Reay, who started 17th Sunday, was running eighth on lap 57 when his car was struck from behind by Sebastien Bourdais. Hunter-Reay's car spun off the track and stopped in the sand area. Assisted by the safety team, Hunter-Reay was able to return to the race a lap down and finished a disappointing 24th Sunday.
The Andretti Autosport team now packs up its cars and equipment for the 6,500-mile trip back to Indianapolis and prepares for the Oct. 2 Kentucky Speedway race.
MARCO ANDRETTI, #26 TEAM VENOM ENERGY DRINK CAR
Secured a third place podium finish
"It was a good day for the Venom crew - they did a great job in the pits. We had to do our part today and push when we had to push. We made a bit of a gamble with the tire choice and I think it paid off. We were able to be on the reds when it counted and were able to push when we needed."
MIKE CONWAY, #27 TEAM @FOLLOWANDRETTI CAR
Finished the race in ninth place
"It was a tough day really. We seemed to be working our way up through the field and then had a bad pit stop on our last stop. After that we were forced back behind the cars we had overtook and it made it hard from there."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, #28 TEAM DHL/ CIRCLE K/SUN DROP CITRUS SODA CAR
Ended the race in 24th after contact
"It's disappointing. We had another solid top-ten going for the DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop car - we would have finished sixth if [Sebastien] Bourdais hadn't taken us out. I'll have to look at the video; I thought I cleared him and the whole team thinks I cleared him. We'll have to see a replay and see but it's disappointing."
DANICA PATRICK, #7 TEAM GoDaddy.com CAR
Finished the race in 11th place
"It was kind of a funny race - picking off spots from other accidents and others making mistakes and then from strategy. It was nice to be able to make it on two stops and we were able to save the fuel when we needed. Then on the last stint Graham [Rahal] came out right behind me and I had to drive hard, and wasn't able to save as much fuel and still stay ahead of him and I did. It was nice to be able to because obviously he's a pretty fast car. Overall today was a decent result for the GoDaddy.com team having started in the back of the field."