Andretti Green Racing's Hideki Mutoh and Danica Patrick were optimistic that their strong run at Richmond could mark the start of a turnaround for the struggling team.
So far this year AGR has lagged behind its usual rivals Penske and Ganassi, and it has not won since Tony Kanaan's triumph in the 2008 Richmond event. As well as lacking speed, the team has also been hampered by mechanical issues and accidents, but its four drivers finished in fourth to seventh places on Saturday night, with Mutoh and Patrick using an alternative strategy to run in the top three and challenge for victory.
Although Patrick admitted that qualifying, which saw the four AGR cars line up eighth, 10th, 16th and 17th, had been a disaster, she felt there were strong signs of recovery in the race.
"Goodness gracious, qualifying was disappointing and embarrassing to some degree," she said. "We want to rectify that and we want to come back strongly, and I think a lot of the things we learned here can be applied to other places too.
"We got another top five but I am itching for a win, so let's hope it comes soon."
Mutoh agreed that if AGR can repeat its race day form from Richmond, the questions about its lacklustre 2009 performances would go away.
"I'm really proud of this team," he said. "My engineer told me that if we didn't have the last yellow flag, we might have won the race. It's coming together."
Patrick is currently AGR's leading representative in the championship, holding fifth in the standings, 60 points behind leader Dario Franchitti.