Returning to a track they’d conquered six-consecutive times, hopes were high for the struggling Andretti Autosport to score their second victory of 2016 at Iowa Speedway. However, Andretti’s drivers were left scratching their heads after a weekend of ineptitude at their top track.
The organization’s struggles began on Saturday, when all four Andretti drivers failed to qualify inside of the top 10.
Fighting with handling woes and falling victim to a lack of speed for the entire Honda camp, Andretti failed to place any driver higher than 15th on the starting grid for the 22-car race.
When the race finally went green, things didn’t get any better.
Things started to go downhill quickly, as a blistering pace from Josef Newgarden left the organization’s four drivers all a lap down after less than 50 laps.
Then, on lap 105, defending winner Ryan Hunter-Reay’s motor blew to force the race’s first yellow.
Rossi generated a lone bright moment for the team in the form of a sixth-place finish with some pit strategy and a strong long-run car. Munoz ended his day in 12th, with Andretti and Hunter-Reay finishing 14th and 22nd, respectively.
After another surprising oval finish in his rookie season, Rossi was the lone driver from the team to find optimism on the day.
“I think we were unlucky in terms of the yellows when they came out because our strength today was in the second half of our tire life,” Rossi said. “We had really, really good tire life and everyone else was struggling. We were able to stay out but we were never able to take advantage of that.
“None-the-less a good result from where we started and we’re looking forward to Toronto.”
Andretti Autosport’s other drivers expressed their frustrations after the race.
“Another disappointing result,” Andretti said. “I had to come from the back and it was hard to pass. We gave it all we had. We took a risk on strategy, which of course didn’t pay off – so here we are with a 14th-place finish.”
Munoz echoed Andretti’s sentiments, describing the Iowa Corn 300 as one of his most difficult races as a driver.
“Man, that was the longest race of my career in INDYCAR,” Munoz said. “We struggled a lot for grip. I didn’t have any confidence in the car. We were just chasing the car the whole race, changing and never could get the balance in the car.”
After finishing last, Hunter-Reay attempted to put the race into perspective.
“It [the engine] just popped without warning but that was the least of our problems today,” Hunter-Reay said. “That was the most out of shape I think we have ever been. I’m not really sure. We’re going to have to look at it. I couldn’t get out on my own way out there on a track that I absolutely love and that this team has historically been so good at.
“It just goes to show you that you can never get ahead of yourself. You always have to keep working. You always have to find a way to be faster.”
After one of their worst showings, Andretti Autosport will get a chance to redeem themselves in this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto.
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