SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Thought to be one of the contenders for the series championship at the beginning of the year, Andretti Autosport has had a season plagued, no pun intended, with bad luck.
Perhaps, an omen of the bad luck came in Colton Herta’s hauler catching on fire on the way to the season-opening race in St. Peterburg, Florida. It would not be the season-opening race in the end as the coronavirus pandemic forced event organizers and IndyCar to reschedule the race.
“Obviously there’s been bad luck,” said Alexander Rossi, driver of the Andretti Autosport #27-car. “There’s been some mistakes. It’s kind of been one thing after the other.”
Between Rossi and his teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, the two top contenders from the Andretti stable, their average finish per race through the first four races of the season was 13th. Through the next five races that followed, that average did not improve.
A crash in the first of two races at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis didn’t help things with three Andretti cars having to retire before the first lap, including Rossi’s. That was followed by Hunter-Reay finishing seventh and 11th in both races. Rossi was 14th in the second race.
Marco Andretti sat on the pole for the Indianapolis 500, but was unable to lead a lap. He has never finished higher than 10th this season. Zach Veach has not finished inside the top ten since a fourth-place result at the season-opening race at Texas.
“Having double-headers at short ovals is not great for us, but I’d say really that’s the only thing that’s been negative,” said Rossi. “I mean, losing the street courses obviously, as I kind of mentioned … it’s doubling up on our worst type of track and it’s taking away our best type of track. That’s obviously in play.”
Mid-Ohio this past weekend was a big bounce back for the team with Rossi getting back-to-back podium finishes and a podium sweep in the second race of the doubleheader weekend with Colton Herta’s win and Hunter-Reay finishing second.
Rossi said the struggles have given the team the ability better identify any weaknesses they have.
“It’s been a challenging year for everyone for obvious reasons on and off the track, and it’s just been a lot of different circumstances that we just haven’t had go our way,” Rossi said It’s not necessarily the fault of anyones. It’s just the way things go sometimes in racing and in life
Rossi and Hunter-Reay hope they can begin a strong finish to the season with no more oval track remaining on the schedule. The series returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the brand new Indy Harvest Grand Prix on the IMS road course at the beginning of October.
“It hasn’t been one of our strongest tracks,” said Hunter-Reay. “But we’ve found some things we think might apply there that might work, so I’m optimistic to keep this momentum rolling, go out and have a good weekend at Indy GP and hopefully finish at St. Pete, which has also been a good track for us.”
“If you look at the 88-car (Herta) like they’re having a pretty good year, I guess,” added Rossi. “But yeah, for Ryan and I, it’s been just relentless, one thing after another.”
Rossi and Hunter-Reay are out of contention for the championship. The lone long shot to compete for the title is Herta, who is fourth behind Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, and Pato O’Ward.
Three races remain in the season with a doubleheader at Indianapolis ad then the season finale at St. Petersburg, which was once the season opener.