thecarnut.typepad.com > DANICA PATRICK WINS AT MOTEGI, JAPAN

A New, Younger Andretti Keeps Up an Unfortunate  Family "Tradition"

A New, Younger Andretti Keeps Up an Unfortunate Family "Tradition"

Motegi, Japan

Marco Andretti seems to have the "Andretti gene", or whatever it is which has so often stopped his father (Michael) or his grandfather (Mario) in their tracks in too many races. Andretti had turned 21 just a few weeks before the Motegi race, and he almost certainly needed (or severely wanted) a drink --- a hard drink --- following his "performance" at the Honda 300. The ambient temperature at the track was only 59 degrees when the race was started; Indycar series races are usually run in warmer weather. But seeing the crews and fans at the track, it was obvious that 59 degrees might have been an optimistic reading of the local thermometer. Temperature has a lot to do with the amount of grip which tires have on the track, and cold tires equals little or no grip. After the green flag fell to signal the start of the 80-lap event, Andretti headed into the first corner of the race's first lap, pushed a bit too hard on the gas pedal (ethanol pedal?) and that 650-horsepower Honda "Indy V8" engine spun the car's rear tires so fiercely that the car was virtually uncontrollable, and young Marco was just "along for the ride". The actual "hit" was not very hard; in fact, if it had been a closed-wheel stock car, Marco might very well have been able to continue the race. But the Indycar, with its completely exposed front suspension components, was harmed too much to continue. Now Marco understands why Formula 1 race teams use heated blankets to cover the tires until the very start of a race; the more controlled the temperature of the tires, the easier it is to predict many things about the car's performance.

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