Dario Franchitti out early at St. Pete

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Dario Franchitti is out of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after hitting the wall at Turn 3 on Lap 18.

Franchitti had qualified 10th and had just made his first pit stop of the day before he slid up the corner and stuffed his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda into the concrete barrier. Afterwards, the four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion chalked it up to cold tires and driver error.

“We’ve really struggled with the car and that’s what I was just saying to [team owner] Chip [Ganassi],” he told NBC Sports Network. “I had to try and make it up somewhere and I just stepped over the line there. Cold tires, hit a bump in [Turn] 3 with the ride height being so low and the low tire pressures, and got in the marbles and hit the wall.

“[It was] totally my mistake. Just pushing too hard to get some kind of – get back on some kind of level peg somehow – and I stepped over the line.”

Franchitti also mentioned that the team was “a long, long way from where we need to be” in terms of making progress on the car.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do,” he said.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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