LONG POND — A weekend that started out with such promise ended in frustration for Marco Andretti at the Pocono IndyCar 400.
Andretti was fastest in practice Saturday morning and then went out and won the pole in record fashion later in the day.
On Sunday, he dominated the first half the race over a track just 40 minutes from his home in Nazareth.
But when his team’s fuel strategy didn’t work out he was forced to settle for a disappointing 11th-place finish.
“I’m so frustrated for RC Cola and everybody,” Andretti said. “We were so dominant. I’m just absolutely gutted.”
Andretti was forced to pit with 34 laps left in the race for fuel. Most of the other leaders were able to wait a few more laps. Andretti was left fighting to conserve enough gas just to finish the race while everyone else was running wide open.
He wasn’t a factor the rest of the way.
Before the pitt stop, it didn’t look like anyone could challenge Andretti.
“To sit there and watch the lead go away was just ripping my guts out,” said Andretti, who believed he had the best car in the field.
He did manage to finish all 160 laps of the race, running out of gas right at the finish line.
The day didn’t go any better for Andretti’s Andretti Autosports teammates.
Rayn Hunter-Reay finished 20th after being involved in a pit row incident, James Hinchcliffe crashed in the first lap and E.J. Viso finished 21st.
NASCAR star watches race
The stars of IndyCar weren’t the only race car drivers at Pocono Raceway on Sunday.
One of NASCAR’s biggest stars visited the track to watch the race. Jeff Gordon, who raced Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway, brought his son Leo to watch the IndyCar race.
“I’m just so excited to he here for Leo,” Gordon said. “He’s the one who saw the cars on TV and said to my wife, Ingrid, ‘Race car, race car.’
“So we were in New York and said, ‘Heck, let’s go.’”
Gordon’s son wasn’t the only one enjoying the day.
“To be back here in Pocono with the Indy cars, how could I miss that? It’s so cool,” Gordon said. “I’m being here as a fan and enjoying it.”
Gordon finish 34th in Saturday night’s Coca Cola 400 after getting caught up in a crash.
One little mistake cost Tony Kanaan a shot at $1 million.
Kanaan, as winner of the Indianapolis 500, was eligible for the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown bonus. All he had to do was win at Pocono and the season-ending Mad TV 500 in California.
For a while it looked like he had shot, but on Lap 107 his front wing clipped the rear tire of race-winner Scott Dixon as he went for a pass. The wing wasn’t knocked off the car, but it was damaged enough that Kanaan had to head to the pits to replace it.
“I apologized to the crew several times,” Kanaan said. “I made a mistake and it cost us big.”
Kanaan eventually got the lap back that he lost in the pit stop, but he was not able to get back to the front of the race.
“We had a car that was capable of winning this race,” the Brazilian driver said.
If Dixon or Kanaan win in California, the driver will pocket $250,000 for winning two of the three triple crown events.
Driving legend Johnny Rutherford was in the driver’s seat of the pace car for the race.
Perhaps, it should have been his wife.
The three-time Indy 500 winner and his wife, Betty, were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on Sunday.
If it looked like Scott Dixon had a difficult time hoisting the Pocono 400 trophy, there was a good reason.
The trophy — which features an eagle and American flag atop a hunk of coal — weighs in at 53 pounds.
Pleased with Pocono
At least one driver left Pocono happy that Indy cars are back at the track.
“Pocono is incredible,” Josef NewGarden said after finishing fifth. “This is an Indy car track. I don’t know why we haven’t been here.”
The 22-year-old may not have know exactly when the last time Indy cars were at the track, but he knew it was a long time.
“I wasn’t even born the last time they raced here.”