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.’

Column: Contrasting Michael Schumacher’s and Robert Wickens’ situations

(Photo: Tony Gentile / Reuters)
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As much of the world looks forward to Christmas and New Years Day in the next few weeks, a dark anniversary is also on the near horizon.

It’s hard to believe that December 29 will mark five years since seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was critically injured in a skiing accident, suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Schumacher and his family were on holiday in the French Alps when he fell and struck his head on a boulder. The impact was so severe that it cracked the helmet he was wearing straight through.

One can only imagine the damage the impact did to Schumacher’s skull and brain.

While chronologically the accident occurred a half-decade ago, for many of “Schu’s” most ardent fans, it seems like it was just yesterday when the earth-shattering news broke.

In the following days and weeks after his accident, Schumacher was placed in a medically induced coma, as well as had at least two surgeries on his brain.

Since then the world has waited for news about the racing legend’s condition, only to receive very little in terms of updates over the subsequent five years.

That’s the way his family wants it, having repeatedly requested privacy when it comes to details about Michael’s condition. That request for privacy should be respected.

Schumacher’s wife, Corrina, issued a rare statement late last month that didn’t really say much about her husband’s condition or recovery, but she did thank fans and well-wishers for their continued prayers and concern about her husband, adding, “We all know Michael is a fighter and will not give up.”

In the meantime, Schumacher’s fans have been able to stay somewhat close to his legacy by watching as his 19-year-old son, Mick, has showed significant achievement in his own budding racing career.

So much so that rumors have already popped up that the younger Schu may soon follow in his father’s F1 footsteps, perhaps as early as 2020.

That, of course, remains to be seen.

What makes the Schumacher situation so difficult for many to still understand is how, while enjoying a simple skiing excursion with his family, he suffered a life-changing accident while having survived some wicked crashes during his racing career that barely affected him.

We still don’t know if Schumacher can walk, talk, is conscious and lucid or not – and many of his fans have already accepted that we may never, ever know any of those details. But if that’s the way he and/or his family want it, again, then we need to respect their wishes.

At the same time, there’s another race car driver who suffered a horrendous injury at Pocono Raceway this past August, namely IndyCar driver Robert Wickens.

Wickens suffered a devastating spinal cord injury that has left him a paraplegic – although there remains a great deal of hope that he will one day walk again.

While both suffered serious injuries, there’s a significant contrast between Schumacher and Wickens. The former (or his family) is keeping all details about his condition private, while the latter keeps his fans and supporters regularly updated on social media on how he’s doing.

That includes Wickens posting a number of videos, including some rather humorous ones where he has a mischievous look in his eyes or a good-natured smirk on his face — like bringing in a Christmas tree to his rehab facility, or “racing” teammate James Hinchcliffe in wheelchairs in a Days of Thunder homage of sorts.

Watching each new Wickens video or reading his most recent online messages, it’s very clear that expressing himself and reaching out to the world is indeed good therapy and medicine of sorts for the Canadian driver.

He needs those social media posts and videos as much as we need them from him.

And it also helps fans better understand where Wickens is at in his recovery and rehab.

If Schumacher or his family wish to still remain private about his condition, we must respect that. But perhaps they could see the good will and good tidings that Wickens’ videos and posts offer. They’re as good for Wickens’ own well-being as they are for his fans — and they could be equally as good for Schumacher, his family and his fans.

Follow @JerryBonkowski