Hunter-Reay, Andretti, Rossi endure tough Detroit qualifying

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DETROIT – Carlos Munoz did the business to qualify fifth for Saturday’s first of two Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans races, but his three Andretti Autosport teammates had a tough outing in Friday’s qualifying session. A separate Munoz post will follow tomorrow ahead of Saturday’s race, the seventh of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Ryan Hunter-Reay blamed Sebastien Bourdais for an accordion effect stack-up in Q1, which then triggered Marco Andretti blaming teammate Hunter-Reay for getting balked in the same session.

Andretti then reportedly refused to talk on IndyCar Radio, with Dave Furst reporting Andretti said his teammate “effed him.”

Meanwhile Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi will start 17th, in-between the inside positions of Hunter-Reay (15th) and Andretti (19th), after a qualifying session that surprised him.

In the only pre-qualifying practice, Andretti was ninth, Munoz 10th, Hunter-Reay 15th and Rossi 19th.

While Andretti Autosport was able to orchestrate a strategy where Munoz went from 20th to the win in the first of two races last year, and Andretti himself ended second, they may have to pull a similar strategy this year.

“There’s an accordion affect in qualifying sometimes. You get yourself into a gap, you make your home in that gap and then everybody’s just got to go,” Hunter-Reay explained, via the team post-qualifying release.

“Bourdais, for some reason, went five seconds off the pace on that first lap. I have to understand why he did it; I’ve got to understand why it was necessary. I’ll go talk to him and figure it out – he has plenty of experience so it’s strange that would happen.

“But it cost me, and it cost Marco. It’s going to be hard in traffic tomorrow. The track a bit rougher than it was last year, but we’ll talk about it as a group and figure something out for the DHL team.”

Here was Bourdais’ quote: “It’s just disappointing. The car was really good on blacks (primary tire) and I felt like we could have done something, but on the reds (alternate tire) it just went away from us as soon as I left the pits. There was nothing under me, no rear stability and the car felt like it was floating. Unfortunately, there is no testing so you can’t work with the reds. It’s just frustrating. The Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Team will just have to regroup, hit the reset button and see what we can come up with for tomorrow’s race.”

Meanwhile, here was Andretti’s official quote: “Qualifying was really frustrating, 19th wasn’t the result we came here for today. We’ll have to get creative and do our best to work the UFD / Snapple car to the front tomorrow.”

Rossi was more surprised than frustrated that the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda didn’t make it out of Q1.

“(Qualifying) really surprises me,” he said. “Based on where the teammates were in practice, I thought we’d be looking pretty good in qualifying. I felt really comfortable in that session in the NAPA car, compared to where I was in practice. It’s disappointing. To be a group toward the bottom again, is not great. We need to keep working.”