Roller coaster day for Andretti Autosport in Mid-Ohio

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – Andretti Autosport’s fortunes on Lap 18 of 90 in Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 summed up its roller coaster afternoon.

First, Marco Andretti fought hard to hold off the advances of former teammate James Hinchcliffe exiting the Keyhole.

Further down after the Keyhole and on the run to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course’s primary passing zone, Turn 4, it appeared as though then two of Andretti’s current teammates – Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay – came together while battling for position. Rossi was on the outside and Hunter-Reay on the inside, with Hunter-Reay alleging contact.

It was that kind of day. Despite the spin, Hunter-Reay rallied to eighth, while Rossi was sixth.

Hunter-Reay quickly surmised his viewpoint: “It wasn’t his corner yet. He came down. That put me over the curb on the inside. I did that corner successfully side-by-side with three other drivers. So I’m not sure why my teammate couldn’t,” he told NBC Sports.

Rossi, very much keen to avoid any issue with his teammate, said he’d talk to him later on to clarify the situation.

“I was on the outside, so if anyone was gonna chop it would have been me,” he told NBC Sports. “I looked at it and it was 50/50. You never want that to happen to a teammate. So I will go talk to him.

“We work well together every single weekend, and have for a year and a half. It’s unfortunate. We’ll resolve it and move on.”

Takuma Sato, meanwhile, led the quartet on the day while Andretti had another quiet day, finishing 12th after saving fuel early on.

“Yeah, starting third and finish fifth, it isn’t necessarily too perfect a finish,” said the driver of the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda, the company back on the car for another race after its Indianapolis 500 victory. “But, I think we had a little issue in a pit stop and lost a couple places, so it was good to recover in the end. A solid performance from the (Ruoff Home Mortgages team).

“I don’t think it was an issue. Just, when I came out of the pits, yes unfortunately we all came together. It was Helio, and I think Ryan, and of course Alex, and in the end I think Marco as well. We had side-by-side and very close racing, but I don’t think we had any, you know, bad moment. But, we can have a chat in debriefs that way, but I don’t think we had (any issues).”

Today’s result made it back-to-back races where Andretti Autosport placed three of its four cars in the top-10, a first for the team this year in 13 races.

Sato remains the highest placed driver of the four in the championship in seventh, 72 points back, after his best finish since Detroit race two.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.