Hunter-Reay, Sato praise Andretti Autosport recovery

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Hunter-Reay, Sato praise Andretti Autosport recovery
David Malsher
By: David Malsher
Mar 14, 2017, 4:53 PM

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato have praised their team and crews for bouncing back from brake issues and shunts to finish fourth and fifth in the IndyCar season-opener at St. Petersburg.

Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda pit stop
Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport Honda
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda sign
Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda
Alexander Rossi, Herta - Andretti Autosport Honda
Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport Honda

After suffering a crash on Sunday morning following a brake issue, Ryan Hunter-Reay finished fourth, just ahead of newest teammate Takuma Sato who had a severe crash on Friday yet qualified in fifth.

Said Hunter-Reay: “It was a wild weekend. From the ups and downs of braking issues in second practice and then warmup, we definitely earned this one.

“We fixed engine calibration issues early on [in the race], got out in front of the pace car by about a second or two keeping us on the lead lap. To finish fourth was just awesome.

“This #28 team has done a great job all day. To fight back like that, I had to keep coming spot after spot, really earning it, then there at the end I got that spot back from my teammate Sato. We had a lot of fun out there driving every last drop out of the car.

“Hopefully we can get the DHL Honda team back on the podium where we belong, but a fourth-place finish is a good start. This whole team has done a great job; Andretti Autosport has been working hard. We had some great pace, showed good promise.”

Sato, who led two laps and appeared to be on a victory-contending strategy, suffered a long pitstop when the right-front wheelgun failed. But he remained positive given the background to his race had involved a hard hit on the Turn 13 barrier.

“I’ve probably had one of the hardest Fridays, so it was a difficult and challenging weekend. Given the circumstances, I think we did the best we could in qualifying and I was extremely happy with the result. But I think a fourth and fifth place finish for Andretti Autosport is a fantastic result.”

Marco Andretti, who looked strong in practice had already been disappointed with his pace on red tires in qualifying and admitted, “We overreacted because we were really loose on (Firestone primary) blacks. So, we overreacted with the car set up and it wouldn't turn on the (alternate) reds. We would have been better off not having made the changes and just running.

“[So] we started P15; we hung on to salvage seventh, and that’s what we needed to do on days like this. After qualifying where we did, you gotta take a top 10. We also got a yellow in our favor today and that’s what it’s going to take – to be just as lucky as good. Hopefully we can be both all year.” 

A slow puncture accounted for Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi’s failure to finish in the Top 10. He commented: “I think our pace was as good as the guys who finished in top five. We got caught up on the first yellow, then had a punctured tire on the third stint.

“We had to come in early because the tire was going down, and by pitting early we had to save a huge amount of fuel at the end and couldn’t attack. Just two unfortunate circumstances dictated the end result.”

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