Andretti Autosport’s bid to claim the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was severely impacted by a crash that came just after a restart on Lap 35 of today’s event.
Three of the four Andretti drivers were involved in the incident, which began when James Hinchcliffe (pictured) attempted to pass Tony Kanaan on the inside of Turn 1. The pass went awry when Hinchcliffe hit the back of Kanaan instead, causing him to go into the inside wall and then ricochet into teammate E.J. Viso before hitting the Turn 1 tire barriers. Viso kept going, but Hinchcliffe could not and upon returning to pit road, “The Mayor” quickly rode off on his scooter with his helmet still on.
“I didn’t get the best restart and Tony had a smokin’ one and I was trying to keep, I think it was [Simon] Pagenaud, behind me on the inside as we got down to Turn 1,” said Hinchcliffe, who finished 26th. “…I don’t know if Tony was trying to do a last minute pass or if he was getting squeezed by someone else, but he moved in the brake zone and I just had nowhere to go and day done.”
In addition, Ryan Hunter-Reay also sustained damage, which forced him to the pits to receive a new front wing. Then on Lap 49, his day ended when he went into Turn 8 too hot while trying to pass Ana Beatriz and slammed into the tires there (he was credited with 24th place).This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Viso soldiered on until he parked his car with 10 laps to go, settling for 22nd place.
Marco Andretti kept the day from turning into a total bust for the group by rising from 25th starting position to seventh at the checkered flag — another sure sign of progress for him on street circuits, which were especially rough on the third-generation driver last season.
“Going into this, I knew that this would be about the best we would finish,” Andretti said. “I am definitely pleased with how we climbed our way through the field and how we stayed consistent throughout the day. We knew that if we just stayed in the race and didn’t make any mistakes, we would be good. I had some front wing damage and a lot of understeer the whole race.”