Andretti Autosport goes 0-for-Fast Six for first time in 2013

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Here’s one for you: name the last race before the Honda Indy Toronto race one where all of Andretti Autosport’s cars missed the Firestone Fast Six.

If you guessed any race this year, you’re wrong. The last time the last round of IZOD IndyCar Series qualified didn’t have any of the fearsome foursome, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti or E.J. Viso, was Sonoma in 2012.

Hunter-Reay will start sixth as a result of James Jakes’ engine change penalty, but had his charge on Friday halted again, ironically, by Takuma Sato. Sato contacted “RHR” in the pits last week at Pocono, costing the defending series and race champion pivotal points. Friday, during Q2 of IndyCar’s knockout qualifying, Sato’s contact with the Turn 1 wall cost Hunter-Reay the chance to improve his fastest lap.

“It’s frustrating. We had a great car today; we led the first practice,” said Hunter-Reay. “I’d like to thank the guys, the crew on the No. 1 DHL team for giving me a great car. I’d like to thank (Takuma) Sato for knocking us out of the session again today. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll be fighting again tomorrow, we’ll be fighting again on Sunday.”

Andretti will start 10th, while Hinchcliffe and Viso failed to advance out of Q1 and will start alongside each other on Row 7.

“You always want to do your laps in the end, but I’m sure I’m in the same boat as everyone else, so I can’t use that final red flag as an excuse,” said an introspective Andretti. “We tried something for the second qualifying round that didn’t really help, so it’s a bummer for the Dr Pepper crew.

“I think the race tomorrow will come down to attrition,” he added. “Mistakes will be made during the race, but hopefully not from us. Hopefully there isn’t too much carnage, but there might be with the first standing starts. I think the fans are going to be in for a good show.”

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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