Team Outlook 2016: Andretti Autosport looks to rebound strong

Updated: 

Andretti Autosport

Drivers:

Carlos Munoz, No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda

Marco Andretti, No. 27 Snapple Honda

Ryan Hunter-Reay, No. 28 DHL Honda

Alexander Rossi, No. 98 Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda

Chief engineers: Garrett Mothersead (Munoz), Nathan O’Rourke (Andretti), Ray Gosselin (Hunter-Reay), Tom German (Rossi)

Race strategists: Rob Edwards (Munoz), Michael Andretti (Andretti), Ray Gosselin (Hunter-Reay), Rob Edwards (Rossi)

Owner: Michael Andretti

2015 highlights: As the lead Honda team, Andretti Autosport had trouble figuring out the nuances of the aero kits and was not the force early on that many expected. Carlos Munoz did capture his first career win in the rain-shortened first race at Belle Isle, with teammate Marco Andretti second. Besides that, the first half of the season was mostly forgettable. Andretti did manage a stretch of nine top-10 finishes in 10 races and completed every lap of every race except Pocono, but he has not won a race since 2011. Ryan Hunter-Reay came alive down the stretch, winning at Iowa for the third time in four years, also winning Pocono and totaling more points in the last four races than anyone.

What’s new for 2016: Andretti, Hunter-Reay and Munoz return for a third full season together, joined by talented American rookie Alexander Rossi, who cut his racing teeth on the European circuits in the Formula One ladder. Rossi drives car No. 98 in a partnership between Andretti and the former Bryan Herta Autosport team. Herta, a former Andretti driver, will serve as strategist for Rossi and Tom German, formerly of Team Penske, will be the engineer.

They said it: “There’s obviously a lot of continuity with the three drivers from last year,” said Rob Edwards, the team’s director of engineering and race operations. “Adding Alexander within the last two weeks has provided some challenges in the short term, but I think will make us stronger in the long term. We’ve worked hard over the winter with the improvements to the Honda aero kit. We’ve still got a lot to learn about the benefits of that. We finished the year strong – I think Ryan got more points in the last four races than anyone else – so we’re obviously looking to pick up on that at the start of the season and continue from there. Honda has done a great job this year making sure we’ve had parts sooner. We certainly feel much more prepared than we did this time a year ago. As a team, as a unit, yes, I feel really good about our preparation in the offseason, feel really good about the groups we’ve got on each car. I think we’re going to start much stronger this year than we did last year.”

“It's so hard to win an Indy car race nowadays,” Marco Andretti said. “It always has been. But I think I put a lot of pressure on myself. I don't care what my last name is, I want to succeed. It's killing me not having a win (since 2011). It doesn't matter if my last name was Smith or Andretti, I'd want to win. Otherwise you don't compete.”

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