BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Marco Andretti had an answer for everything crafty veteran Scott Dixon tried.
Andretti couldn't catch up to Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay at Barber Motorsports Park's permanent road course on Sunday, but nobody else overtook him either and he clung to second place for about the final 45 minutes of the timed race.
Andretti's runner-up finish sends him to the new road course in Indianapolis on a good note after a rough start to the season.
"I actually think it was huge for him," said Michael Andretti, the team owner and Marco's father. "We had a little bit of a talk before the start of the race. He drove really well. I was proud of him.
"He was very aggressive when he needed to be aggressive, then he paced himself really well when he got in front of Will (Power). Will never was able to challenge him. He was under a lot of pressure from Dixon. Didn't put a wheel wrong. In the end you could tell Dixon tried everything to get by him and he fell back because he used his tires to try. He did a really good job."
Marco Andretti wound up with his first podium finish since taking third in Sao Paulo early in the 2013 season. It was pretty good timing, too.
Andretti headed to Indianapolis on Monday to begin preparations for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis ahead of Wednesday's testing.
"I haven't done a lot yet on the circuit," Andretti said. "I won the (2005 Indy) Lights race there, but I think it's quite different."
He had been knocked out with 28 laps remaining at St. Petersburg in a crash with rookie Jack Hawksworth on the first restart, then finished eighth at Long Beach.
Andretti finished the Barber race with his radio working sporadically. He didn't express much confidence that he could have overtaken Hunter-Reay if the race hadn't ended under caution, saying he would have risked using up his tires and getting passed by Dixon.