Honda disadvantage at Indy made Marco Andretti ‘angry’


When the 2015 Indianapolis 500 concluded, Juan Pablo Montoya was its victor and Marco Andretti “was angry.”

But the son of Michael Andretti wasn’t mad because Montoya won. He was ticked off that Honda had lost in a glaring fashion.

The final results showed Marco’s No. 27 Snapple Honda finishing in sixth, one spot behind the No. 15 car belonging to Graham Rahal.

The two drivers had the only Honda-powered cars in the top 11.

Honda was able to celebrate six wins over the course of 2015’s 16-race schedule. But Andretti knows there’s asterisks on some of them.

“Some we won, weren’t… one was a pack race (Fontana), anyone’s game,” Andretti told media last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, including NASCAR Talk‘s Nate Ryan.  “Pocono was a lot of people out. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) drove a hell of a race.”

Two others, Honda’s only wins among the first 10 races of the season, were a result of rainouts at NOLA Motorsports Park and one of the Detroit duals.

The Indy race could serve as the perfect microcosm for the first half of the season. Frustrations over Honda’s seeming disadvantage to Chevrolet have resulted in the former citing Rule 9.3 in the IndyCar rulebook, which will allow Honda to make changes to its aero kit for short tracks, road courses and street courses in 2016.

The modifications are based on two tests IndyCar made with the 2015 aero kits. What was the difference?

“I’ve heard numbers around 400 pounds of downforce,” Andretti said. “It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Three to four tenths there… if we make some of it up. With some wins they pulled out this year, we hope it’ll be twice as strong.”

During the long offseason Andretti has tested for 2016 at Mid-Ohio and Road America, and is scheduled to at Phoenix today pending weather. Andretti says he’s “cautiously optimistic” about what he’s seen so far.

“That’s all I can say without my engineer killing me,” Andretti said. “Most (is being made up) on the road course side. I can’t say we’re totally equal on speedways. There’s a bit of politics involved.”

That’s something the two-time IndyCar winner doesn’t want anywhere near Indianapolis Motor Speedway come the month of May and the 100th running of the Indy 500 a race an Andretti hasn’t won since 1969.

“I don’t want politics to hinder my chance at winning that race, you know?” Andretti said. “It’s the 100th Indy 500… that could be the face for the next 100 years. To be at a disadvantage there would be disappointing.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.