Andretti Finishes Second at Homestead-Miami in NYSE Car; Leads Most Laps

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (March 29, 2008) -- Marco Andretti led a race-high 85 laps at Saturday's GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 -- more laps than he led in all of 2007 -- en route to a second-place finish in the NYSE car. It was Andretti's best finish at the 1.5-mile track in three career starts.

Starting from the fourth position, Andretti showed early on that the NYSE car was a contender for the race victory. Following his initial pit stop where the crew made a front wing adjustment, Andretti began his assault on the field and began to pick off cars. Andretti entered the pits on his second pit stop in second place and a fantastic pit stop sent him back to the track in the lead -- where he would stay for the next 80 laps until being passed by teammate Tony Kanaan. Andretti worked his way to a second-place result over the final 30 laps and never dropped out of the top-five cars during the 200-lap race.

Marco Andretti, #26 NYSE Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "We started out pretty well in the NYSE car. We really focused on the balance of the car starting in the off-season during testing. I think my engineer (Eddie Jones) and I did a very good job coming up with a setup that works at a place like this. The NYSE guys were awesome in the pits. The Firestones were unbelievable. The Honda engine was awesome. It was a great day."

Ziggy Harcus, Race Strategist, #26 NYSE Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "We had a good race and I am very proud of Marco and everyone on the NYSE crew. We got caught in the traffic before the last pit stop so maybe we should have pitted a lap or two early since we ran out of the window, and we lost couple positions then. Overall, we finished second and took some good championship points so we are happy with the start of the season."

Danica Patrick drove to a sixth-place finish in the Motorola car at Saturday's GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Starting from the second position, Patrick kept the Motorola car in the top ten all evening and captured the best Homestead-Miami Speedway finish of her career.

Dropping a few positions within the first 20 laps, Patrick struggled to find a setup that gave her the ability to stay with the front runners. Patrick and her Motorola crew tried to improve the car throughout the 200-lap event, which allowed her to stay within the top seven for the majority of the night.

Danica Patrick, #7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "What a frustrating night. I thought our Motorola car was going to be a strong tonight, but we just never found a setup that was going to be able to compete like we wanted it to. We need to put this behind us and move on so we can be ready for next week."

Kyle Moyer, Race Strategist, #7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "All in all we had a good day. We had a strong sixth place finish, which is Danica's best finish here at Homestead-Miami. I know that she wanted a better finish, but in last year's race here, Dario (Franchitti) finished eighth and he ended up winning the championship. With that being said, we are already ahead of the game."

Tony Kanaan piloted the #11 Team 7-Eleven machine to a disappointing eighth-place finish at Saturday night's running of the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, the first race of the 2008 IndyCar Series season.

Kanaan, who never ran lower than fifth until the final few laps, took the overall race lead on lap 161 when he passed teammate Marco Andretti. When the car driven by Ernesto Viso spun on lap 192, it clipped the Team 7-Eleven car and broke the right-front suspension. Kanaan was able to nurse the car for the next few laps under yellow-flag conditions but was forced to pit in the final laps and finished eighth.

Tony Kanaan, #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "I've been around a long time and the race is not finished until the checkered flag. This was a misfortune -- yes. But, how many times have I won races because some other guy was unlucky? With 10 laps to go I was looking around and I was thinking, 'This looks too easy.'

"When somebody spins and he's doing 230 miles an hour, you're like, 'Where should I go?' I slowed down, he was on the bottom, so I went to the top. Then, all of a sudden he started to go to the top and I was trying to go to the bottom, so there was nothing I could do about it.

"The way I look at it, this is right where I finished here in 2004 in the Team 7-Eleven car and we know the way that year turned out (by winning the IndyCar Series championship)."

George Klotz, Race Strategist, #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "Obviously today was a bad day for us. What makes it tough is that the Team 7-Eleven car was great and Tony was driving like he owned the place. We had a great opportunity to win the race tonight. We're disappointed, but are in good shape for St. Petersburg so we are looking forward to next weekend."

Formula Dream driver Hideki Mutoh suffered damage to his car early on after making contact with the wall and was forced to retire early from the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Mutoh started seventh in his Andretti Green Racing debut, but dropped back at the start. While running in heavy traffic in the opening laps of the 200-lap race, Mutoh battled with the handling of the car.

Following his first pit stop on lap 20, Mutoh returned to the track in the 20th position and then began to gain ground, climbing to 17th by lap 31.

But, while maneuvering through traffic, the Japanese rookie was forced high on the track and made contact with the outside retaining wall with both the right front and right rear corners of his Honda-powered Dallara. The right-side suspension sustained enough damage to force Mutoh out to the garage area on lap 32, where his Andretti Green crew determined he could not continue.

Hideki Mutoh, #27 Formula Dream Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "It was my fault for causing us to retire so I feel bad. I had trouble with the handling of the car in traffic at the beginning and I lost some positions. It's very disappointing that I retired early from my first race in the Formula Dream car, but I will concentrate on the next race and hopefully do well in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg."

Kim Green, Race Strategist, #27 Formula Dream Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "Today's result is certainly not what we wanted. We may have given him a car which was a little bit too neutral for him so we lost a little bit of ground at the start. He handled well in traffic, but one of the other cars pushed him up into the outside wall so we sustained some damage to the suspension. We thought it was bit too risky to fix it for the speed at this track, so we look forward to doing well in next week's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg."

The fourth-annual Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is next up for the IndyCar Series on Sunday, April 6. ESPN will provide live coverage from the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., beginning at 2:30 p.m. (EDT). The race can also be heard live by XM Satellite Radio subscribers on XM channel 145.

-credit: agr