INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Marco Andretti stood in his garage in the days leading up to the Indianapolis 500, quietly recalling with disappointment how he had led many laps in the race but never the final one.
He led 20 more laps on Sunday. He still hasn't led the right one.
Andretti's bid to exorcise his family's infamous curse at Indianapolis Motor Speedway came up short when he was passed by Ryan Hunter-Reay with 17 laps remaining, and then couldn't get within striking distance of his teammate during the frantic final laps.
Andretti finished third behind Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves, who waged a dramatic duel after a red flag came out for a wreck with 10 laps left in the second-closest finish in history.
"I wanted him to get up there and if he can pass him, do it," said Michael Andretti, Marco's father and team owner. "But I knew there were a few times he tried to get up there and his car didn't have the speed and down-force there, and that was difference between Ryan's car and his."
Marco Andretti, who quietly disappeared after climbing out of his car, has now led 141 laps in the Indy 500, fifth-most among drivers who have never won. His father tops that dubious list.
"Since '69 as a family we've had zero wins," Marco Andretti said this week. "We've been knocking on the door and that's what fuels us and gets us up and ready to give it another shot."
The only time the Andretti name adorned a car that pulled into Victory Lane was 1969, when Marco's grandfather Mario was in the driver's seat. Michael was poised to win several times over the years, only for fuel pumps and punctured tires and Lady Luck to spoil his chances.