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IndyCar Indy 500

Andretti had near miss just before Legge and Wilson wrecked

Marco Andretti experienced a close call in Monday’s Indy 500 practice session a lap before the crash that befell Katherine Legge and Stefan Wilson.

Katherine Legge, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, Stefan Wilson, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet, wreck, crash

Wilson will miss this weekend’s race due to suffering a fractured vertebra. The crash occurred in the final hour of running when cars were practising racing moves in the draft.

Santino Ferrucci had just passed Devlin DeFrancesco on the front stretch, which led to Wilson apparently backing off in reaction to DeFrancesco’s slower car entering Turn 1.

The following Legge failed to slow in time, and her front-left wheel rear-ended Wilson’s rear-right corner, causing them both to spin and hit the wall.

Legge explained: “The cars in front were all checking up, I lifted as much as I could and downshifted, hit the brakes, but it wasn’t enough as they were checking up.”

Andretti will start his 17th Indy 500 from 24th on the grid – one spot ahead of where Wilson had qualified. He said the crash happened just behind him but wasn’t surprised after a near miss of his own just a lap earlier.

“It was in my mirror, but what's funny, before that happened – not funny – but literally a lap before that happened, we were in this string of cars, and I'm like, I can't believe how slow the pack is going,” he said. “It caught me out in [Turn] 3. I was way on the brakes, and I couldn't believe how slow they were going.

“So, I think from the looks of it, I only saw it from sitting in the race car, it looked like she just got caught out by how slow they were going.”

Marco Andretti, Andretti Herta w/ Marco & Curb-Agajanian Honda

Marco Andretti, Andretti Herta w/ Marco & Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Andretti echoed what Team Penske’s Will Power said on Monday about expecting “very fierce” racing from this year’s new aero package, because the 10 per cent extra downforce is allowing cars to run closer together in the pack without it being any easier to pass the car in front if you’re following a train of cars.

“It's become more of a track position race in the past five years,” Andretti added. “It's pretty tough to pass three or four back. I'm sure there's been a theme.

“I'm not sure what is actually causing that, but I think to be honest, the new aero rules just allow that snake to be even closer, so when you get the runs on people, you pop into clean air and drag, and the car you're trying to pass has a 20-car draft, so he beats you to the corner.

“So, it makes it very tough to pass. I think adding the downforce made that snake on the straightaway that you see even closer.”

Marco Andretti, Andretti Herta Autosport w/ Marco & Curb-Agajanian Honda, Mario Andretti, Eric Bretzman

Marco Andretti, Andretti Herta Autosport w/ Marco & Curb-Agajanian Honda, Mario Andretti, Eric Bretzman

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Despite starting from the eighth row of the grid, Andretti believes he has a much stronger race car than he was able to show in qualifying and can make progress towards the front in the 200-lap event.

“It makes it pretty difficult to make hay, but it is 500 miles, and we've seen this race end up crazy,” he said. “We're ready to fight. We have a car to fight.

“My car goes when it's behind other cars. It's comfortable and we can run a lot of throttle in race situations.”

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