Prendeville Looking Forward to Long Beach After Problems at St. Pete ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 5 - Starting spots in the second half of the field on a street course with limited places to pass, a rare mechanical problem and contact with...
Prendeville Looking Forward to Long Beach After Problems at St. Pete
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 5 - Starting spots in the second half of the field on a street course with limited places to pass, a rare mechanical problem and contact with another competitor spoiled Andrew Prendeville's hopes for good finishes in the Firestone Indy Lights season-opening doubleheader this weekend that was part of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Ironically Prendeville ended up in the same position he started in both 40-lap races Saturday and Sunday on the 1.81-mile, 14-turn street course. He finished 17th on Saturday after a problem developed with the right-rear shock absorber on his Team Moore Racing Xtreme Coil Drilling No. 2. He was 15th on Sunday after contact late in that race with Martin Plowman.
The positive news is that Prendeville was very pleased with his car on Sunday, noting that he was able to set competitive lap times before the incident with Plowman. His results belie the competitiveness of his mount. Good starting spots are crucial here due to limited safe passing zones, so the results can be misleading indications of a car's actual performance. Being an experienced racer, Prendeville also understands the ups and downs of the sport, and is anxious to have better results in the series' next event in just 14 days in Long Beach, Calif.
Prendeville dropped two spots on the first lap of Saturday's race, and ran in 19th place for the first four laps. He advanced to 18th when Sean Guthrie spun on lap four, and moved into 17th when Sebastian Saavedra pitted on lap five. He was in 15th position by lap 15 after Duncan Tappy spun and Stefan Wilson fell back. He passed Plowman on lap 18 to move into 14th position. He moved ahead one more spot to 13th on lap 27 when Wade Cunningham experienced problems. He stayed in 13th position until there were only seven laps remaining, but at that point the problem with the shock absorber refused to be denied. He dropped to 15th on lap 34, lost another spot on lap 37, and dropped to 18th on the white-flag lap. Richard Philippe had problems on the last lap ahead of Prendeville, so the Henderson, Nev.-based driver finished 17th in the series' season opener, completing all 40 laps.
Prendeville, a New Jersey native, started 15th on Sunday but lost two spots on the first lap to drop to 17th. He moved to 16th on lap 23 after James Davison got stuck in a runoff area off Turn 14. He advanced three more spots when Ana Beatriz, J.R. Hildebrand and Stefan Wilson made contact in Turn 1 on a restart on lap 26.
He remained in 13th until the very last lap when the incident with Plowman occurred. He was able to return to pit lane under his own power, but wasn't allowed to return to the course to complete the last lap since the checkered was imminent. He was credited with 39 laps completed and a 15th-place finish. There were six caution flags in all in that race and almost half of the event was run under full-course yellows.
"[Martin] Plowman made a bold move," Prendeville said after Sunday's race. "I gave him as much room as I could, but he clipped my right front. So I finished in the pits today, and yesterday I broke a right-rear shock absorber, a problem that may have plagued us on Friday and all day Saturday.
"Today we were fast, but track position is everything here. The new qualifying format for street courses hurt us too.
"I have to thank everyone at Team Moore Racing for their hard work. We didn't get the results we wanted here, but we'll take what we learned and go to Long Beach. I've never been there before, but I'm looking forward to racing there and getting better results."
The St. Petersburg races will be broadcast Monday at 6 p.m. Eastern on VERSUS.
For more information see andrewprendeville.com, teammooreracing.com and indycar.com/pro.
-credit: restart communications