The hard-fought race was fan thriller filled with plenty of action.
The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season opener has come and gone with the Andretti Autosport squad of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Muñoz, Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti finishing in third, eighth, 12th and 15th, respectively. The hard-fought race was fan thriller filled with plenty of action.
From St. Petersburg, the Verizon IndyCar Series heads west for Round 2 of competition at Phoenix International Raceway - the series return to the track after more than 10 years.
Ryan Hunter-Reay – No. 28 DHL Honda
• Qualified in the sixth position, but took the grid in P5 due to a driver change at the front of the field
• A contender from the start, the series veteran set a fast pace early in the race, never dropping below the sixth position
• Came away from the season opener with a third-place finish, his 33rd career podium
"It was a good finish to the race, we were able to get back up to the podium and it was tough. There were a couple instances where the whole field could have been taken out, but I was able to get back and get under it just in the nick of time. It was a very good drive, the DHL car was very good and the guys did a great job in the pits, so we did everything we could today from fifth. We got a little held up in the middle of the race and that kind of left us in a big gap, but it was a good day all-in-all. I’ll absolutely take starting the year out with a podium at my home race."
Carlos Muñoz No. 26 – Andretti Autosport Honda
• Rolled off from the 12th position and was shown as high as second
• Was involved in a multi-car incident on Lap 64 and assessed a stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact
• Finished the day in the eighth position
"We were looking good, but then the yellow flag came out and didn’t help us any. I ended up making a mistake trying to overtake (Charlie) Kimball, so we ended up crashing because of my move. It’s racing and I apologize to all of those who were involved in that incident. We ended up getting back into the race and we finished strong in the eighth position, not the result we were looking for, but we have to take all the possible points we can get this early on."
Alexander Rossi – No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda
• Shown as high as the fifth position during his IndyCar debut
• Endured a long pit stop mid-race for a front wing change after snagging the wing during a multi-car incident on track
• Recorded a 12th-place finish after starting from 18th
"That was probably one of the more challenging days I’ve had in a race car in quite some time. We just didn’t have the car underneath us today for whatever reason it was quite tricky out there. I think we made the most of what we could, we stayed out of trouble and obviously the finishing position doesn’t look that bad, but considering we were almost a lap down from our teammate is a bit of an issue. We need to really look at things in the next couple weeks. It’s another set of circumstances coming up in Phoenix, but we really need to understand this with Long Beach going forward."
Marco Andretti – No. 27 Snapple Honda
• Started from 14th and made massive gains on the opening lap to advance to P7 by Lap 4 and moving on to lead the race through pit rotations
• Spun while challenging for position in Turn 1; later suffered from a mechanical issue on track forcing the car to stall and lose track position
• Recorded a 15th-place position
“The Snapple Honda was strong and we were really making progress early on, but it was my mistake. I wanted the win too bad and was impatient - I hurt what was a good car. Disappointed, for sure but will look ahead to Phoenix.”