Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Patrick, Andretti: We're cool
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Marco Andretti smiled at the question.
Sure, there might have been a few hard feelings aimed at Andretti Green Racing teammate Danica Patrick after Saturday night's race at Texas Motor Speedway, but they were already forgotten.
"I just said what I was feeling," Andretti said Tuesday during a break in IndyCar testing at Watkins Glen International. "I was frustrated. But we talked it out. It's not the first time it's happened and it's not the last time it's going to happen. We just have to work the best we can together."
"Marco and I are fine," Patrick said. "It's definitely nothing new to have drivers out there pushing and competing for positions and having differences about things."
After Saturday's race, Andretti expressed frustration with Patrick. Andretti finished a season-best fourth and Patrick was sixth, but they were battling side-by-side late in the race for fifth.
Afterward, Andretti suggested the team needed a "sitdown" meeting. The team is co-owned by Marco's father, Michael, who is Patrick's race strategist this year.
"The toughest people out there [challenging] me are my teammates, and I don't get that," Marco Andretti said after the race. "I think three out of four of us get what the camaraderie of Andretti Green Racing is."
Patrick responded to Andretti's complaint by saying he made a great pass to get by her and that the two were simply racing for position.
Andretti also said Tuesday that he wanted to set the record straight. He said he never said Patrick was a bad teammate -- only that at the time she was driving like one. He said it was just a gut reaction in the heat of the moment.
"It was kind of blown out of proportion," he said. "It was just a moment and frustrating at the time. It's over."
AGR teammate Tony Kanaan, also here to test for the Camping World Grand Prix on July 5, also downplayed any rift.
"When you have four drivers on the same team, we manage pretty well when you go to a track that you run side by side and you fight for the whole night, especially with very competitive drivers," said Kanaan, still ailing from a crash in the Indianapolis 500. "It was a tough race. Nobody would leave Texas not being mad at somebody at some point just because the race itself is the way it is.
"We did talk," Kanaan said. "People try to make a bigger deal than what it is. We're a team. We have our moments. We have good moments and we have bad moments. If we're not competitive and if we can't win, we're not happy. I would be really surprised if we did not give each other a hard time on the race track."
Patrick's contract with Andretti Green Racing expires after the season, and she said Tuesday she was exploring all of her options.
"You've got to be open to all possibilities," she said.
This is not the first time Patrick has been the subject of controversy. Last season, she stomped down pit row to confront Ryan Briscoe after Briscoe collided with her while leaving the pits at the Indianapolis 500. Both cars were knocked out of the race. She confronted Milka Duno in pit lane later in the season and in 2007 grabbed the arm of Dan Wheldon also to complain about a crash.
But Patrick has focused on being more relaxed this season, and the change has been good. She had four straight top-five finishes, including a third at Indianapolis, her best finish at the Brickyard, to open the season and ranks fifth in the points standings.
Andretti, meanwhile, has had mixed results. The 22-year-old has four top-10s but also finished 13th in the season opener and 30th at Indy, when a first-lap crash with Mario Moraes ruined his chances.