Two weeks after an affair to forget in Long Beach, the Andretti Autosport squad is aiming high once again after Ryan Hunter-Reay and E.J. Viso claimed the front row for tomorrow’s Sao Paulo Indy 300 (11 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network/NBC Sports Live Extra).
Hunter-Reay set a new track record of 1 minute, 20.43 seconds around the 2.5-mile Anhembi Park street circuit en route to his second pole of 2013. Considering Sao Paulo’s reputation for trouble, the driver of the No. 1 DHL/Sun Drop Chevrolet is happy that he’ll be clear of potential chaos at the green flag. But after struggling mightily last time out, he knows that nothing is a given.
“We thought we had a good car at Long Beach, and once we got into the race, I knew we were challenged and would be for the rest of the day,” said Hunter-Reay. “We need to make sure we’ve fixed those things this time and go out and have a great race.”
As for Viso, he said that he was not surprised by how well he was able to perform in qualifying considering the track record of the team he joined this past off-season.
“The beginning was very tough, but we knew we could do it,” the Venezuelan said. “In every single race, we’ve shown we had the pace. We did the fastest lap last week. [At] St. Pete, we passed 16 cars in the race. I knew and I know that very good results are ahead.
“I just feel that now everything is starting to click in my career. I’m very happy to be just with a team that is as dedicated as this one.”
Needing a good result this weekend in Brazil, James Hinchcliffe also came through for the Andretti squad with a P5 effort in the Firestone Fast Six. Meanwhile, Marco Andretti didn’t make the final round of qualifying but isn’t too far from the front either; he’ll start 10th tomorrow as he looks to continue his steady beginning to the season.
Watch tomorrow’s Sao Paulo Indy 300 online and on your mobile device.
MotorSportsTalk continues its review of the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Ryan Briscoe. Despite not having a ride to start the year, Briscoe ended strongly courtesy of a series of strong runs at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
- 2014: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 4th, 1 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 12.8 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish
- 2015: 18th Place (8 starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 2nd, 1 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 10 Laps Led, 17.8 Avg. Start, 12.0 Avg. Finish
For those who slag on Briscoe as being undeserving of top level equipment, his 2015 second half provided a friendly reminder of his overall ability level in what might be less than the best machinery.
Briscoe was thrust into the No. 5 car under trying circumstances to begin with, getting all of an hour’s worth practice replacing the injured James Hinchcliffe ahead of the Indianapolis 500. But subsequent drives on the ovals there, Texas, Fontana, Milwaukee and Iowa – even if the results were less than ideal – showcased a driver determined to show to the paddock he still had it, and then some. His defense against Juan Pablo Montoya in Sonoma was nothing short of brilliant, and courtesy of double points he actually finished ahead of full-season driver Stefano Coletti.
The Australian immediately gelled with the SPM team, engineer Allen McDonald and race strategist Robert Gue. He continues to prove he’s an asset, as he has enjoyed multiple opportunities to extend his career in various arenas of motorsport in both open-wheel and sports cars, the latter of which he won at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Corvette Racing this year.
Following an early retirement for Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton has closed even more on his third Formula 1 World Championship.
View it above in the race recap from the 2015 Russian Grand Prix.