Getting a clear understanding of the 2018 universal aerokits has been a challenge for the field, particularly with the superspeedway configuration. The one thing that seems to be apparent after two days of practice on the 2.5-mile oval of Indianapolis Motor Speedway though, is that the maneuverability and flat out speed of these cars in traffic vs. clean air is very different and it’s creating a heck of a puzzle for the crews and drivers to solve.
Marco Andretti ran the fastest out there today – his lap of 227.053 was with a tow and nearly 2 mph faster than Pagenaud’s high speed yesterday. He admits that running out there without a tow was more like a 221 lap and for that reason he thinks track position will be important, and therefore putting together a sold four-lap qualifying attempt this coming weekend will be crucial.
“I prefer once you get to the front, have a good car, you should be able to stay there instead of being a sitting duck. However, if you’re third or back in line, it’s going to be very tough. It’s going to take discipline to wait for the guy to have a go and have a big wash-up, then you get him. It will be tougher to pass. But I prefer that.”
Andretti is not afraid of a challenge which I find commendable. He has the benefit of five teammates for the ‘500’ but admittedly has blinders when it comes to focusing on what’s best for the No. 98 U.S. Concrete/Curb Andretti Autosport Honda. He’s been a leader in that trend and it’s led the 6 Andretti cars to have different setups a good amount of the time. That’s not uncommon, as we’ve heard from many top teams in the past, that they all share data but end up with different setups.
In racing as in life, sometimes you have to do what’s best for you to get the best result. So far that kind of focus is serving Andretti well, running tenth in points right now with the opportunity to move up significantly if he can earn a podium at the 102nd Running on May 27th – his 13th ‘500’ start. The No. 98 crew has already checked off a lot of boxes two days into practice, so they are well on their way to a successful month. Andretti has finished this race in 4th, 3rd, and 2nd… so this year could easily be the one where he wins it all.