Marco Andretti has been very fast at Watkins Glen during his brief racing years but had struggled this weekend. He earned the sixth starting spot for today's Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix, but the search for speed is still on.
Andretti started third in his Indy Car Series debut here last year, based on series points after qualifying was canceled. He was running well until being involved in an incident with Eddie Cheever. In 2005, while racing in the Indy Pro Series at The Glen, he finished second.
"This is a different year," said Andretti. "We had the optimum car for the conditions here last year and we set it up last year kind of in the middle, like an intermediate type of car. We dusted off that setup for this year and it was no where near what it was last year. That's why in the first practice sessions this weekend I was nowhere."
Andretti came into Saturday's IndyCar Series qualifying action the ninth fastest of the 18 cars in practice. In single-lap qualifying he improved greatly, turning in his best lap of the weekend as he moved up to fourth in the order.
At the conclusion of single-lap qualifying the fastest six cars participated in a 10-minute, European-style session in which they can improve their times. But at the end of the session, Andretti slid to sixth in the final qualifying rundown.
"I loved the single lap part of the qualifying to try to get the most out of the car," said Andretti. "For the Fast Six shootout we put enough fuel in the car to run a lot of laps in a row for the 10-minute session. But I think with the tire warmers and the heavy fuel load it just takes the edge off the tires right in the first two laps and you're too heavy to go fast. Maybe it was not a good call there."
The Glen is not the only place Andretti has struggled this season. He has an average finishing position of 14.6 in nine races with a second at Iowa and a fourth at St. Petersburg, his only top fives of 2007. He is a distant 12th in Indy Car Series points.
"To come from the slower group from practice and to start sixth fastest, I'm really happy with that," said a hopeful Andretti. "We'll see what happens in the race."
Indy Car racing legend A.J. Foyt, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary in open wheel racing, has been victimized by the heavy flooding rains that have plagued central Texas. Foyt owns an 8,500 square foot lake house located on Lake Travis near Austin. All of the furniture from the first and second levels of the home have had to be cleared out.
Wade Cunningham of Auckland, New Zealand, won the first of this weekend's two Indy Pro Series 29-lap races. The second event, which makes up the Corning Twin 100's, is this afternoon. Following Cunningham Saturday was Hideki Mutoh of Tokyo, Japan, and Alex Lloyd of Manchester, England.
Jean-Francois Dumoulin won the Grand Am KONI Challenge Series Supercuts 200 Saturday evening.
Hanish Somerville of Ottawa won the Historic Grand Prix event in his 1979 Williams FW07B entry. Indianapolis 500 veteran Arie Luyendyk of Phoenix, Ariz., was second in his 1978 Wolf WR-6.