Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz were among the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday for Honda and its Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and teams.
Starting 10th and 12th, respectively, Andretti and Munoz had trouble-free runs on the 1.968-mile Southern California street circuit, with Andretti proving to be the quickest Honda at Long Beach, moving ahead of fellow Honda drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal to finish eighth. Munoz had an equally uneventful run to take the checkers in ninth.
Hunter-Reay, in the third Andretti Autosport entry, started fourth, but lost two positions in the run to the first turn, and later struggled on the harder compound “primary” tires to finish a disappointed 13th. Rahal likewise suffered from handling issues and finished 11th.
After early-race contact resulted in a pit stop for repairs and a slightly off-sequence pit strategy, Jack Hawksworth led four laps during the first scheduled round of pit stops, but the lack of any late-race cautions dropped the A.J. Foyt Racing driver to 14th at the finish.
The Verizon IndyCar Series now heads back east for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama for the fourth round of the 16-race 2015 season at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, starting 3 p.m. EDT Sunday, April 26, with live television coverage on the NBC Sports Network.
Marco Andretti (#27 Andretti Autosport Honda) started 10th, finished 8th: “It’s always nice to be in the top 10, but it’s a bit frustrating because we are sort of maximizing what we are dealt. I can see if we made mistakes and ended up eighth, then fine, but I’m not sure that we could have done better today. It will take a bit more development on everything and we’ll work for more in Barber next week.”
Graham Rahal (#15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) started 8th, finished 11th: “We had an issue with the rear end of the car this morning in warm-up, but thought it would go away in the race. Unfortunately, it didn’t and we struggled with keeping the rear of the car underneath us. It was a major struggle to balance and maintain. It’s unfortunate, because I was hoping today would be a day where we could make up some points, and we squandered the opportunity.”
Art St. Cyr (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race in Long Beach: “Obviously, this was a very disappointing day for all of us at Honda Performance Development. We need to perform better. We do believe we have identified the areas where we need to improve, and will spare nothing in our efforts to return Honda to victory circle in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”