Saturday saw a controversial qualifying session at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Despite having the speed to advance, Marco Andretti was issued a penalty for qualifying interference, negating his fast time and dropping the veteran driver from advancing. As a result Marco Andretti was handed an 18th-place position on the starting grid..
CHASING THE CHECKERS.
Veteran racer Marco Andretti started at the back of the pack and by Lap 10 had worked his way up to run in the top-10. The Andretti-Herta Autosport driver drove the Ruoff Home Mortgage / Curb car all the way to third before recording a 94th career top-10 finish with ninth. The No. 98 machine showed pace that is potential for a hardware-collecting finish.
The team heads to the desert for the Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Speedway. Coverage will be available for the first oval race of the season on NBC Sports Network beginning at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 7.
IN THEIR WORDS.
“In the beginning, we seemed to have pace on [Firestone alternate] reds. Then, sort of got caught on blacks in the middle and it gave up a bit of time. On the last third of the early-on stint, we started to lose pace on reds so we wanted to come in and cover. We sort of split the baby on that one. We came out of the pits in traffic which was unfortunate, but we drove the Ruoff Home Mortgage car to third from 18th. We had to have been the ones to pass the most cars today. Overall, we’re still top 10 and we had pace, and that’s better than lucking into a top-10 finish. Good things are ahead from the No. 98.” – Marco Andretti
“We had a bit of a rough start this weekend after advancing from our group in Round 1 of qualifying and receiving a penalty – which we do not understand – that relegated us to 18th on the grid. Marco drove a terrific race passing cars all the way up to third place, but unfortunately after our third pit stop we lost a lot of time in traffic, eventually coming home in 9th. I’m really positive about the way we raced, even if the result isn’t the one we hoped for, I think our optimism for this season is justified.” – Bryan Herta