Marco Andretti falls back at TMS, his rival moves up in IndyCar standings

Posted Saturday, Jun. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Marco Andretti entered Saturday’s IndyCar Firestone 550 with a share of lead in the series standings and, by starting at the front of the field, legitimate hopes of finding his way to Victory Lane for the first time in 2013.

He left with little more than a consolation prize in a fifth-place finish behind Helio Castroneves, who took over sole possession of the season standings with a victory at Texas Motor Speedway.

The finish marked Andretti’s fourth top-five finish of the season, a mark of increased consistency that he said last week is the difference in a changed racer.

“Consistency is what I’ve worked on in the off-season,” Andretti said. “I just want to be consistently better. I think we have been knocking on the door and like hanging and lingering around the top six.

“I’m pleased with the start of the season, but I’m not exactly where I want to be yet.”

Consistency will be key to winning the season crown.

Castroneves’ victory marked the seventh winner in eight races this season.

Andretti’s race looked promising early.

He took an early lead over pole-sitter Will Power on the first lap, a lead he maintained into the first caution and through Lap 53

Andretti, grandson of Mario Andretti, found trouble on the restart after the caution caused by Scott Dixon’s mechanical problem.

On the restart several lapped cars were running between Andretti and the leaders, including a number who were racing aggressively trying to get back into the lead lap.

After a close call with Sebastien Bourdais, Andretti found himself in second battling Castroneves for position to pass the leader and Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Andretti was running fast, with a lap of 214 mph, and he closed the gap between him and Hunter-Reay to less than a second.

Hunter-Reay, who finished second, benefited from an early pit stop and wasn’t hurt as badly on the race’s third caution.

“It’s always easier to be the Monday morning quarterback,” said Andretti, who ran the fastest lap in the first practice session on Friday.

“I think it worked out for Ryan — he had a vibration and came in early. He went out, running some quick laps and he didn’t catch a yellow. We tried to do the same thing, we caught the yellow.”

Andretti’s No. 25 caught a yellow and wound up a lap back on the restart.

Gaps in the field began to spread, and Andretti found himself 10 seconds back of Castroneves, his current rival for the series lead.

Castroneves takes a 22-point lead into this week’s Milwaukee IndyFest.

“It’s unfortunate and to top it all off the worst guy in the championship fight against me won, but congrats to him,” Andretti said, laughing.

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