Marco Andretti’s stellar drive in Detroit fails to pay off

Leave a comment

Marco Andretti and his #98 Andretti Herta Autosport team sensed an opportunity early in the first race of the Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader weekend.

Severe weather had drenched the Belle Isle Park street circuit, but with the track slowly drying out, drivers would have to make the transition from rain tires to dry slicks.

Andretti was the first driver to do so on a pit stop with 51 minutes remaining in the 75-minute timed race. His subsequent out lap was a fascinating drive (see above), as he furiously attempted to maintain control of his car on the damp circuit.

It may have had fans on the edge of their seats, but unfortunately for Andretti, his strategy didn’t pay off.

Andretti’s hope was to catch a lucky caution and move to the front while the rest of the field had to pit.

That caution came out when Ed Jones spun into the Turn 7 tires with 44 minutes to go. But instead of the pits being closed for an additional lap, they were opened early. As a result, Andretti remained in the rear of the field.

He went on to finish 16th, and expressed his frustrations on Twitter.

INDYCAR later issued the following explanation for their decision:

Race Control was reviewing data and closing rates and based off the information the pack-up was developing. The goal was to get the pits open as quickly as possible for the competitors and fans, but given the circumstances that included cars on different tires and a cold track it did not occur as expediently as was envisioned.

Andretti’s race strategist, Bryan Herta, also confirmed on Twitter that he got a explanation from IndyCar officials:

Andretti’s exploits in today’s race won’t be forgotten soon by fans, but he’ll have to put it aside and refocus quickly for Race #2 in Detroit tomorrow. Qualifying is at 10:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by live coverage of the race beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).