100th Indianapolis 500 team preview: Andretti Autosport

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MotorSportsTalk looks through the Verizon IndyCar Series grid ahead of the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Here’s Andretti Autosport.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 championship team (2005, 2007, 2014) has endured a difficult start to the season and hope that Indy, a traditional stomping ground, can be the place where its 2016 ship gets righted with the usual five-car entry.

ENTRIES

Carlos Munoz, No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda
Marco Andretti, No. 27 Snapple Honda
Ryan Hunter-Reay (W), No. 28 DHL Honda
Townsend Bell, No. 29 California Pizza Kitchen/Robert Graham Honda
Alexander Rossi (R), No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda

2016 SEASON SO FAR

Heading into May, Andretti Autosport’s quartet has largely struggled with mechanical grip and balance on their cars, and hasn’t even been the leading Honda runner.

Ryan Hunter-Reay has driven brilliantly in the opening races but outside of a podium at St. Petersburg has little to show for it. Carlos Munoz feels confident in his ability but his pace has been negatively balanced out by mistakes. Marco Andretti has been great at passing but been stuck near the back of the grid and Alexander Rossi has been clean and consistent, but similarly hamstrung as his teammates in trying to advance out of the midfield.

INDY OUTLOOK

Andretti’s hopes for all five of its bullets may rest on Honda’s engine improvements – in an ideal world, Andretti could spring a surprise on race day similar to what Ganassi and its Hondas then did in 2012.

Otherwise it could be a long month for the team that’s usually a top-five and win contender at Indy. The package may limit several of its drivers – and that’s the interesting part considering at least four of the team’s five drivers are notably strong here. Rossi remains a fascinating prospect for his first Indy 500 experience. 

RECENT RESULTS

  • 2015: 6. 27-Andretti (8), 15. 28-Hunter-Reay (16), 19. 29-de Silvestro (18), 20. 26-Munoz (11), 21. 25-Wilson (6)
  • 2014: 1. 28-Hunter-Reay (19), 3. 25-Andretti (6), 4. 34-Munoz (7), 6. 26-Busch (12), 28. 27-Hinchcliffe (2)
  • 2013: 2. 26-Munoz (2), 3. 1-Hunter-Reay (7), 4. 25-Andretti (3), 18. 5-Viso (4), 21. 27-Hinchcliffe (9)
  • 2012: 6. 27-Hinchcliffe (2), 23. 25-Beatriz (13), 24. 26-Andretti (4), 26. 17-Saavedra (24), 27. 28-Hunter-Reay (3)

*Note, with Bryan Herta Autosport running under the Andretti banner for Rossi’s entry this year, here’s its record. The team will race five years to the day, May 29, after Dan Wheldon captured the dramatic win in the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500, the 95th running in 2011.

  • 2015: 16. 98-Chaves (26)
  • 2014: 20. 98-Hawksworth (13)
  • 2013: 24. 98-Tagliani (11)
  • 2012: 12. 98-Tagliani (11)

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III