The last time Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick all finished in the top 10 was Chicagoland Speedway in the 2008 finale. Before then, it was Richmond in June. The last time the three Andretti Green Racing teammates were in the top 10 on a road/street circuit? St. Petersburg in 2007: Kanaan (third), Andretti (fourth), Patrick (eighth). For the record, then-teammate Dario Franchitti finished fifth.
So finishes of third (Kanaan), fourth (Patrick) and sixth (Andretti) in the 35th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was cause for a brief, if muted, celebration. All three started 11th or worse. The fourth member of the group, Hideki Mutoh, finished 20th after the No. 27 Formula Dream car was involved in two separate incidents.
“We work better under pressure, I guess,” said Kanaan, the senior member of the group who competed in his 100th IndyCar Series race. “It’s a good day for Andretti Green Racing. Great job for the 7-Eleven team. That’s how we count points and move forward. When we have a car to win, we win and when we don’t we finish on the podium.”
It was Kanaan’s 11th consecutive top-10 finish, the longest active streak in the IndyCar Series. It also was his 68th career top-five finish, the most all time.
Patrick, who a year earlier became the first female to win a closed-course auto race, made the biggest move in the race - from 22nd. Her No. 7 Motorola crew, with Michael Andretti as her race strategist, followed similar pit strategy (and fortune) as race winner Dario Franchitti (Laps 16 and 51).
“It was a much better result, obviously, for us and I’m real proud of how we all kept our heads down and made a result out of it instead of getting down,” she said in reference to her qualifying effort. “The bottom line is that my engineer, Eddie (Jones), put a good car underneath me for the race. And if you’re going to get to pick one session, you hope it’s the race. So we’d obviously like to improve on qualifying so we can have a race from the front, but all the points are the same in the end when you finish.”
It was Patrick’s first top-five since Infineon (fifth) last year and her highest road/street course finish since placing second to Kanaan at Belle Isle in 2007.
“To be honest, we’ve been doing well on road courses,” she said. “We finished well at Sonoma last year, obviously, Detroit the year before. Couple front row starts in ‘07. It hasn’t been horrible, but, my goodness, if you look at the field now, the whole field is good. So it’s really hard.”
Andretti, who started 19th in the No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc. car, notched his 22nd top-10 finish in his 50th career start.
“We found some speed during the morning warms-up and were able to have the pace we needed to work our way through the field,” he said. “The whole AFS crew did a great job in the pits and Kyle (Moyer) made some great calls to get us to the front. Unfortunately, we were held up by a couple yellows but we had one of the fastest cars, for sure. This weekend we learned a lot about what we need to work on the rest of the season.”
Source: IndyCar Series