Andretti and Rahal fail in bid to add to Indy 500 collection
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Ice-T was pulling for ''my homey Marco.'' David Letterman vowed he would shear his Santa Claus beard if Graham Rahal won the Indianapolis 500.
Not even a dose of star power was enough to help Marco Andretti and Rahal in their bids to join their famous families in the winner's circle.
This time, something as simple as tire pressure forced Andretti off the pace and into the pits out of sequence, leaving him a lap down with a quarter of the race remaining in the 100th running of the race Sunday.
Andretti started near the back but had climbed into the top 10 before his tires began showing a reading of too much pressure. He was almost 15 mph off the pace when he was forced to pit. In more than 70 attempts, his family has only Mario Andretti's victory in 1969.
Marco Andretti finished 13th and Rahal, son of 1986 winner Bobby Rahal, was 14th.
''We couldn't get the (fuel) mileage that we needed so, I pretty much bailed on that and just tried to run hard,'' Rahal said.
Andretti Autosport didn't go home empty-handed - Alexander Rossi was the stunning Indy 500 champion.
The Andrettis brush aside talk of curses or bad luck, even though Mario's 1969 victory is the lone one for a family driver. There have been crashes, mechanical ills and just about every kind of fateful twist to keep either from winning the world's richest and most prestigious race.
Marco Andretti, a third-generation driver, is 0 for 11 in ''The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.''
Mario's son, Michael, had it the worst, leading 431 laps in 16 career starts without ever getting the chance to swig that championship milk.
Michael and Mario each got a smooch from singer Lady Gaga before the race.
They would have preferred a family gathering on Indianapolis Motor Speedway to kiss the bricks.
Michael Andretti has reaped the spoils of team ownership, winning with Dan Wheldon (2005) and Dario Franchitti (2007).
Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal have openly talked about how much winning the Indy 500 as a legacy star would mean to them. With IndyCar starved for attention outside of May, Rahal has openly talked of his willingness to serve as the ambassador of the race series with an Indy win.
''Tomorrow I hope to fulfill a dream of a lifetime, to achieve something very few have, and to make my family proud,'' Rahal tweeted Saturday.
Rahal, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, started 26th and was never a serious threat to contend for even a top-10 finish. Rahal said Oriol Servia hit him and knocked his Honda out of whack.
''I don't know what happened there but it was getting loose for me,'' Rahal said. ''I was just kind of hanging on, so we came in and pitted. We tried to go hard and see what time we could make up, but unfortunately it was too little, too late.''
Marco Andretti, who ran as high as fifth on Sunday, had little to say about his latest Indy flop.
''Took hard work to get it up to the top. Only to be sent out on hot pressures. Dropped like a stone. Frustrating race,'' he tweeted.
Marco was a rookie in 2006 and nearly needed just one chance to win the race his father couldn't during a lengthy career. He surged to the lead in the closing laps - passing his father, of all people. Sam Hornish Jr. won by a little more than a car length, and Marco and Michael settled for second and third.
Rossi needed just one shot at Indy to win the race father and son have so far failed to conquer.
''My driving career, just wasn't meant to be. We led a lot of laps here, but we never led the right one,'' Michael Andretti said. ''I was just so happy for our team. Not jealous at all.''