Watkins Glen: John Andretti race report

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 11, 2003) - John Andretti and the NetZero HiSpeed Racing team fought through the twists and turns of the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and scored a 19th-place finish, one of Haas CNC Racing's best of...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 11, 2003) - John Andretti and the NetZero HiSpeed Racing team fought through the twists and turns of the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and scored a 19th-place finish, one of Haas CNC Racing's best of the season, Sunday.

Andretti posted his second top-15 qualifying run for the team Friday afternoon. His speed of 122.959 miles per hour around the 2.45-mile circuit was quick enough to land him the 15th spot on the starting grid.

The green flag flew for the start of the event Sunday and Andretti ran into minor problems almost immediately. Contact with another car resulted in damage to the left front fender of the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac, though the team opted not to lose valuable track position by bringing the car into the pits for repairs. Though the damage negatively affected the downforce of the car, Andretti was able to hold his own against his 42 fellow competitors. Andretti radioed to crew chief Tony Furr on Lap 14 that the car was tight on the left hand turns and loose turning right. Furr called for air pressure adjustments to the next set of Goodyear tires, which were bolted on during the first pit stop of the day on Lap 19. Very few cars had made pit stops and the team fell from 16th to 38th following the stop. Luckily, a caution flag flew several laps later and the remainder of the field drove down pit lane. Andretti lined up in fifth place on the restart on Lap 25.

Misfortune struck again when Andretti made contact with the car driven by Kevin Harvick the very next lap. He was forced to drive the car down pit lane for fresh tires, but remained on the lead lap. A timely caution flag several laps later enabled the crew to take a detailed look at the car on pit lane and make adjustments to minimize the damage. Still on the lead lap, Andretti took the green flag for the restart in 40th. Andretti made his final pit stop on Lap 54 of the 90-lap event and patiently worked his way toward the front. Fuel mileage was the name of the game for many, and the NetZero HiSpeed Racing team took the checkered flag in 19th place. The Top-20 finish was the third of the season for the team and moved them up three spots in the point standings to 37th.

'We had a little problem there at the start and messed up the left front fender of the NetZero HiSpeed Pontiac, which affected up the downforce a bit," said Andretti. "We came back pretty well from it and made a pit stop early, which wound up lining us up in fifth on the next restart. Unfortunately, we bent the steering when the field got bottled up and we got hit by the No. 29 on the restart on Lap 25. The guys did a good job fixing it as best they could and then we made adjustments to the car every time we came in. As many problems as we've had together the past couple of weeks, I think we'll take a 19th-place finish and be happy with it."

The NetZero HiSpeed Racing team will again pair up with Craftsman Truck Series competitor Jason Leffler for the first in a six-race stretch together next weekend as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway. Qualifying for the GFS Marketplace 400 will take place Friday, August 15 at 3:05 p.m. ET, with the drop of the green flag scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. The event will be telecast live on TNT and will be broadcast worldwide by MRN Radio.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Jason Leffler , Kevin Harvick