It wasn’t a win; heck, it wasn’t even a top-five.
But Marco Andretti was pleased with his sixth-place finish in Sunday’s IndyCar Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Being his second top-10 in three races of the 2018 season, Long Beach marked Andretti’s best result yet. His previous best was a ninth on the other road course in St Petersburg.
And while the race results have been decent, Andretti has struggled to find the right setup for qualifying. Starting 18th in the season-opener, Andretti’s ninth-place finish was hard fought. He was even worse in qualification trim at Phoenix, starting 20th on the grid.
“I’m making my Sunday’s miserable,” Rahal said in a post-race interview. “As soon as I get my qualifying together, I think we’re going to win a race.”
Long Beach was another disappointing start for Andretti. Mired deep in the 24-car field, he rolled off the grid 20th for the second consecutive race – behind the opening lap chaos that erupted between Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal.
“We passed 14 cars today – something like that,” Andretti said. “We raced really well. (Saturday) I just made a mistake in qualifying on the brakes.”
Andretti was able to manage traffic a little better in Long Beach than St Petersburg, but it was not an easy task.
“(There was) a lot of slicing and dicing mid-pack,” Andretti said.
Now he shifts from two street courses in the first three races to a permanent road course — Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama — this weekend. In eight starts there, he has three top-five and two other top-10 finishes.
But the third-generation Andretti family racer is also coming off his worst finish at Barber in last year’s race (21st), so his strong finishes thus far this season, as well as his prediction of winning a race this year, couldn’t come at a better place or time.