Marco Andretti still searching for Indy 500 glory after 3rd-place finish

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Marco Andretti keeps banging on the door at Indianapolis, but the darn thing doesn’t seem to want to open.

The third-generation driver threatened late as he battled both Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves for the win in today’s Indy 500.

But the latter two drivers ultimately settled the matter among themselves, leaving him to settle for a third-place finish behind RHR and Helio.

Add that to a growing pile of near-misses for the son of Michael and grandson of Mario.

Today marks his third P3 finish at Indy to go along with the runner-up to Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 and the fourth-place showing he had in last year’s ‘500.’

“[We were] close but we never really dominated. You could say that Ryan and Helio did,” said Marco. “The only way we had a shot is if those two got together. They were putting so many blocks on me that there was nothing I could do.

“Every time we got to the front, we got shuffled back.”

Marco took the lead from Hunter-Reay in Turn 3 with 19 laps remaining, but Hunter-Reay quickly reclaimed it on the next lap. Castroneves would also jump him for second, and that was that.

Michael Andretti, Marco’s team owner in addition to his Dad, felt like Marco’s No. 25 Snapple Honda simply had too much downforce in the final laps.

“There were a few times when Marco tried to get up there, but I saw his car didn’t have the speed…[The downforce] was the difference with Ryan’s car to his,” Michael said.

“I think they were both really good, but I think [Ryan’s car] was a little more trimmed, we had a little more speed. I knew at that point [of the race], if we were going to win it, it would most likely be with Ryan.”

Afterwards, Michael met up with his son, who according to him was “really upset.” Considering his own star-crossed history as a driver at Indianapolis, he couldn’t blame Marco for feeling that way.

“It’s a weird feeling because I really was disappointed for him,” Michael said. “I know you only get that many shots. He had a car that was close, just not close enough.

“Yet I’m so happy and proud of the rest of the team. So it’s a weird feeling. As a dad, disappointment. As a team owner, couldn’t be happier. You have to try to balance those things.”

Marco has now led 141 laps at Indy, which is the fifth-most among drivers that have never won. Michael tops that agonizing list with 431 laps led over his 16 starts in the ‘500.’

Former 5-time ALMS and Le Mans-winning team owner Dave Maraj killed in accident

Photo courtesy Dave Maraj Facebook page
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Well-known sports car team owner and automobile dealership owner Dave Maraj was killed Saturday night in a boating accident in Florida, according to SportsCar365.com.

Maraj’s Champion Racing teams won five consecutive American Le Mans Series championships from 2004 through 2008, and also captured the overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005, the last American team to do so in the iconic sports car race.

IMSA President Scott Atherton released the following statement mourning Maraj’s passing:

Dave Maraj. Photo courtesy IMSA.

“All of us at IMSA are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave Maraj’s passing. As a team owner in the American Le Mans Series, Dave and his Champion Racing organization were the epitome of professionalism and excellence, as their five series championships and 24 Hours of Le Mans victory will attest.

“Dave was a tremendous competitor and a great friend to all in the paddock throughout his time in our sport. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family and friends and to all of his associates at Champion Motors.”

Maraj was a very successful automobile dealership owner, most notably Champion Motors and Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the latter considered the No. 1 Porsche dealer in the U.S.

Details of how Maraj died have not been released.

Maraj sold his racing operation after the 2008 season and devoted himself to his Porsche and Audi auto dealerships, as well as competitive sailing.