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Indy 500: Bleak Day for Andretti Autosport

There were glum faces at Andretti Autosports after none of their four regular drivers made it into the top 24. They head the list of those who had a bad Pole Day at Indy.
Everyone could see that Andretti Autosport were struggling to find their mojo in the practice sessions at Indianapolis over the last week, but most assumed they would come good in the end. But Pole Day arrived, and sure enough Andretti Autosport was the biggest misfire on pit lane.

The look on the faces of John Andretti and Mike Conway said it all, even though John was the only driver in the extended team to make it into the top 24 by the session end. The former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver was in a car being run in collaboration with Richard Petty Motorsports, making it even more amazing that he should get onto the Indy 500 grid while the team's main drivers - Conway, Danica Patrick, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti, along with Raphael Matos of the AFS team that Andretti Autosport collaborate with - did not.

Most striking of all was the language and tone of the drivers when they spoke with reporters: they were looking into the abyss and not seeing anyway out.

"We haven't made any improvements. We were slow when we rolled off the truck, and we're still slow in qualifying," said Marco. "It's beyond me. I don't have an answer, and that's why I'm super-frustrated right now. I'm really nervous about qualifying ... This is going to be the longest weekend of my life, that's for sure. I just don't have any answers right now."

"We're struggling. We tried every bit of the setup, from one side of the spectrum to the other, and it just didn't have any speed with it. I'm not really sure what the problem is, but we'll just keep chipping away at it," said Hunter-Reay. "We just need to get in the race. We've struggled with the car all week, but we just need to get it in the race and go from there."

"Basically every lap I was just hanging on and trying to save the car," pitched in Matos. "I had a very, very bad vibration in the front of the car, as well. Maybe the tires were out of balance."

Danica - who had looked the strongest of the four - was bemused by the sudden collapse in the pace of the #7. "I felt that we had a fast car not only today, but all month, and thought we would hit a 226," she said. "I was happy. It was the best I've felt here in a long time. I felt really comfortable with the car, and it felt effortlessly fast and it wasn't really slow ... until this morning. All I can think of is something we missed or something happened with the track, maybe, and everyone is putting a new set of rubber on and it changed. We just have to buckle down at this point. I guess we are going to have to risk it a little more come tomorrow."

But Mike Conway's bid to return to the race that saw that dreadful final lap accident in 2010 that sidelined him for the rest of the season and nearly ended his racing career seemed doomed. He's been consistently off the pace and near the bottom of the timesheets all week, and has no idea how to climb out of the hole in which he finds himself.

"It's been quite elusive these last few days to try and find it," he said. "I know we're trying a few things, and we just have to go back to the drawing board and see where we can find it. We just need to try and figure it out. It's not nice to be out of the loop already. We just have to keep battling."




Related Pictures

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Three of the Andretti Autosport drivers compare notes during Friday Practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 20. [Picture credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Ho-Pin Tung of Dragon Racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Picture credit: IndyCar media]
Dragon Racing spins and hits the wall during his qualifying attempt on Pole Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday May 21. He was left with a mild concussion and ruled out of taking any further part in qualification. [Picture credit: Mike Young for IndyCar Media]
Justin Wilson suited up onPole Day for the 2011 Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 21. [Picture credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Ryan Briscoe crashes during Saturday morning practice on Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had to switch to the spare car for qualifying, and failed to make the Pole Day grid. [Picture credit; Robert Ellis for IndyCar Media]
Mike Conway personifies the gloomy spirit in the Andretti Autosport camp on Pole Day for the 2011 Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 21. [Picture credit: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media]
John Andretti sums up the feelings in the Andretti Autosport camp, although John himself was able to make it into the top 24 on Pole Day for the 2011 Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 21. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship title (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
The start of the MAVTV 500 (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his daughter Mikaella after winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates winning pole position for the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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