Roller coaster day for Andretti Autosport in Mid-Ohio

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – Andretti Autosport’s fortunes on Lap 18 of 90 in Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 summed up its roller coaster afternoon.

First, Marco Andretti fought hard to hold off the advances of former teammate James Hinchcliffe exiting the Keyhole.

Further down after the Keyhole and on the run to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s primary passing zone, Turn 4, it appeared as though then two of Andretti’s current teammates – Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay – came together while battling for position. Rossi was on the outside and Hunter-Reay on the inside, with Hunter-Reay alleging contact.

It was that kind of day. Despite the spin, Hunter-Reay rallied to eighth, while Rossi was sixth.

Hunter-Reay quickly surmised his viewpoint: “It wasn’t his corner yet. He came down. That put me over the curb on the inside. I did that corner successfully side-by-side with three other drivers. So I’m not sure why my teammate couldn’t,” he told NBC Sports.

Rossi, very much keen to avoid any issue with his teammate, said he’d talk to him later on to clarify the situation.

“I was on the outside, so if anyone was gonna chop it would have been me,” he told NBC Sports. “I looked at it and it was 50/50. You never want that to happen to a teammate. So I will go talk to him.

“We work well together every single weekend, and have for a year and a half. It’s unfortunate. We’ll resolve it and move on.”

Takuma Sato, meanwhile, led the quartet on the day while Andretti had another quiet day, finishing 12th after saving fuel early on.

“Yeah, starting third and finish fifth, it isn’t necessarily too perfect a finish,” said the driver of the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda, the company back on the car for another race after its Indianapolis 500 victory. “But, I think we had a little issue in a pit stop and lost a couple places, so it was good to recover in the end. A solid performance from the (Ruoff Home Mortgages team).

“I don’t think it was an issue. Just, when I came out of the pits, yes unfortunately we all came together. It was Helio, and I think Ryan, and of course Alex, and in the end I think Marco as well. We had side-by-side and very close racing, but I don’t think we had any, you know, bad moment. But, we can have a chat in debriefs that way, but I don’t think we had (any issues).”

Today’s result made it back-to-back races where Andretti Autosport placed three of its four cars in the top-10, a first for the team this year in 13 races.

Sato remains the highest placed driver of the four in the championship in seventh, 72 points back, after his best finish since Detroit race two.

Hartley’s F1 grid penalty streak continues in Abu Dhabi

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Brendon Hartley’s record of receiving a grid penalty at every Formula 1 race he has started is set to continue in Abu Dhabi this weekend after Toro Rosso was forced to change part of his Renault power unit following the last race in Brazil.

Since making his F1 debut at the United States Grand Prix last month, Hartley has faced a grid drop at all three races he has started so far amid ongoing reliability difficulties for power unit supplier Renault.

After being forced to retire from the last race in Brazil two weeks ago due to an engine issue, Hartley has received a 10-place grid penalty for Abu Dhabi after it was confirmed Toro Rosso had changed the MGU-H on his power unit.

Hartley is yet to score any points in F1, having retired from two of his three races so far to make his debut run to P13 in Austin his best result to date.

The Toro Rosso driver finished 20th in FP1 and 19th in FP2 during Friday’s practice sessions in Abu Dhabi as he continued to get to grips with the Yas Marina Circuit.