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Andretti Autosport targets 5 cars at Indy 500; Frijns still possible later

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Andretti Autosport has run five cars each of the last three years at the Indianapolis 500, and the goal remains to do five cars in 2016 as well, for the 100th running.

Andretti Autosport CEO and team principal Michael Andretti confirmed that’s the goal for Andretti to do five this year, as well, with the usual one-car addition.

“We’re working on it. We’re working on five,” Andretti told NBC Sports during Indy Lights testing at Phoenix International Raceway.

“We were close on one deal that just fell apart, unfortunately. But there’s a few other irons in the fire. The goal is get to five.”

Although the opportunity for one of Andretti’s Formula E drivers, Robin Frijns, to join the field for other selected races in a fourth car has passed with the Bryan Herta Autosport/Andretti Autosport partnership and arrival of Alexander Rossi, Frijns could still appear in races later this year.

Andretti said this was “very possible” when speaking to my colleague Luke Smith at the most recent Formula E round in Argentina.

“It’s possible, yes, that we could do that,” Andretti said of a would-be fifth car for Frijns later this year.

“He’s the real deal. Unfortunately we’re on last year’s car, which has hurt us a bit. Simona (de Silvestro) has had a tough time getting a hold of these cars. So he’s been carrying the team in terms of points. It’s been a little difficult. But there are a lot of exciting things we’re doing for the future.”

Andretti is also hoping that Hondas, which were not competitive last year at Indianapolis, can measure up to Chevrolet this year.

“I’m a little worried about Indy. We struggled last year,” Andretti said. “I’m so disappointed in (the sanctioning body) that they didn’t allow the (Rule) 9.3 there. The field was split last year and no reason why it’s not gonna be split last year. I was so disappointed they did that.

“But I really like Jay (Frye, new President of Competition and Operations). I think Jay listens, which is nice. And so far what he’s done, he’s done a good job. Happy so far, obviously early days.”

Andretti Autosport at Indianapolis 500 last three years with five cars:

  • 2015: 6-27-Marco Andretti, 15-28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 19-29-Simona de Silvestro, 20-26-Carlos Munoz, 21-25-Justin Wilson
  • 2014: 1-28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 3-25-Marco Andretti, 4-34-Carlos Munoz, 6-26-Kurt Busch, 28-27-James Hinchcliffe
  • 2013: 2-26-Carlos Munoz, 3-1-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 4-25-Marco Andretti, 18-5-E.J. Viso, 21-27-James Hinchcliffe

Maverick Vinales scores first MotoGP win of season after Bagnaia crashes

MotoGP Maverick Vinales
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Maverick Vinales ended a seasonlong winless drought in MotoGP, winning the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after Francesco Bagnaia crashed while leading with seven laps to go.

Holding off Joan MIr and Pol Espargarao at the Misano circuit, Vinales, 25, won his first race since the Malaysian Grand Prix last year. The Yahama rider is the sixth different winner in eight rounds this season.

With his eighth career victory, the Spaniard moved into a tie for second in the standings with Fabio Quartararo, who finished fourth Sunday after being penalized 3 seconds for violating track limits and losing a spot. There are seven races remaining in the season, which has had no repeat winners since Quartararo opened with consecutive victories in Spain.

“Amazing job this weekend,” Vinales said. “(Bagnaia) was very fast, I was pushing a lot and trying to save a bit of tire for the last 10 laps. Very happy because my mentality ha been competely the same, we just found a better setup.

“I appreciate all the work, because threre had been tough times in my team, but we kept pushing and found better luck, and we have to continue like that.”

Andrea Dovizioso, who finished eighth, leads the championship by a point over Vinales and Quartararo.

Bagnaia, who finished second a week earlier, was on track to become the fifth first-time winner in MotoGP’s premier series this season. But he lost control in Turn 6 while under pressure for the lead from Vinales.

Pramac Racing rider Francesco Bagnaia stands after crashing from the lead during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Misano circuit (ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images).