Michael Andretti said his cars' turnaround in form on race day at Indianapolis came as no surprise to him, and reckons his Andretti Autosport team had a very good chance of beating Ganassi's Dario Franchitti to victory yesterday.
Tony Kanaan charged from the back row of the grid to second, and was chasing Franchitti for the lead when he had to pit for fuel with just four laps to go.
Marco Andretti finished third, while Danica Patrick came through to sixth, despite the whole team having been off the pace in practice and qualifying. But team boss Andretti said he had always believed that in race trim his squad would be more than a match for its rivals.
"The race unfolded exactly the way I was hoping it would," Andretti said. "We felt it was going to come down to a handling race, and we had good-handling cars. We showed that.
"All the cars were set up to run well in traffic because of where we started, and that worked out well for us - it was really hot and slippery, but we had good handling cars in those conditions.
"In the end, if it wasn't a fuel mileage race, I really believe we were going to beat Dario, either with Tony or Marco, so I was really disappointed with that finish."
Kanaan agreed that victory had been within reach, but still thinks Andretti Autosport's performance will make the team stronger even though the result was not as good as it had hoped.
"I think we had a shot for a win," he said. "This whole team, for the work they did today, deserved a top-three.
Patrick had been jeered by some elements of the crowd after strongly criticizing her car during qualifying a week earlier, but paid tribute to her team's efforts to recover ground in the race.
"The guys were really, really great on pit stops and the strategy was exactly what it needed to be to finish in the top five. What can I say? I just worked the pedals and the steering the rest of the time.
"One of the big strengths of this team is its ability to race well, to work the strategy, to work the pit stops and to get us up there. The car was much better in the race. It was a little bit of a struggle at the start, but it kept getting better and that's what you need to do to move up."