If Marco Andretti could find any luck in qualifying this season, then he’d be in contention for better finishes than he’s had. Andretti, finished 13th in the season opener at St. Pete after not even being allowed to turn a lap in qualifying after a fuel problem. In the last race in COTA, he was caught out by a red flag in his group and would have to start in the back again. This time, he charged to a sixth place finish.
Despite the bad luck, that has him up to seventh in the NTT IndyCar Series standings. Now, imagine if things start to go his way on Saturday. That could lead to better luck on Sunday.
Andretti, heads to this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (4 p.m. ET/NBCSN/IndyCar Radio Network) with one goal in mind – get into the top five of the standings.
The third generation driver only trails fifth place driver Graham Rahal but just five points heading to the Barber Motorsports Park. A good qualifying effort on Saturday afternoon could lead to his seventh top 10 finish in his 10th start at Barber.
“So far this season, qualifying is where we have had our worst luck,” Andretti said ahead of this weekend’s race. “We’ve had two really good race cars, but haven’t been able to show their potential because we’ve started near the rear of the grid.
“So this weekend, we’ll look to change our luck and secure a good qualifying position and build on our pace from last year. We want to leave Barber with the U.S. Concrete machine in the top five in points.”
It’s realistic to think so. Qualifying at Barber is so crucial in Sunday’s success. Seven of the nine past winners have come from the Fast Six, four of which from the pole. Andretti’s teammate Alexander Rossi said that despite some bad luck from him on this track, that the organization has a new plan for this weekend and said track position will once again ring key.
“Barber (Motorsports Park) has been a bit of an odd track for us in the past, but we have developed a new approach going into this weekend, so I am confident in our potential,” said Rossi. “We’ve had the pace to run in the Firestone Fast Six at both races so far this season, and it will be important to keep that going this weekend. Barber is notorious for being a track that is hard to pass on, so we will need to start up front in order to maximize the weekend from a points perspective.”
If they want to look for a good setup, they need to go talk to their other teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. He finished runner-up to Josef Newgarden last year and has scored three top two finishes, two of which being wins to go along with four top five’s in his last six Barber starts.
He just needs luck.
“The whole team is optimistic heading to the next round at Barber (Motorsports Park),” said the American. “The DHL machine has had encouraging pace at our preseason tests and the first two race events, so hopefully, we can keep that going this weekend and bring home a third Barber victory for DHL, AutoNation and Honda. The fans are always great in Birmingham, so I am looking forward to seeing them and putting on a good show.”
Andretti, and the entire organization is off to a fast start. All four were fast in the two Friday practice sessions around the 2.38-mile road course and look like Fast Six contenders.