Andretti family suffers more Indy heartbreak

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Date: May 29, 2006
Publisher: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Document Type: Article
Length: 523 words

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael or Marco? Father or son?

That was the question with five laps remaining Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Would Michael Andretti, who had the lead, finally end his Indy 500 frustration? Or would son Marco Andretti, a 19-year-old who was running second, prevail as a rookie?

The answer was: neither. Sam Hornish Jr. edged Marco by 63 thousandths of a second, the second-tightest finish in race history. The Curse of the Andrettis continues at Indy.

"Right now, it's the heartbreak -- another one," Michael said after finishing third, one spot behind Marco. "But I think in another couple of days, we're going to sit back and go, 'Oh, wow, who would have ever thought it would come down to that?'

"We were running one and two with just a few laps to go in the Indy 500, and (Marco) almost pulled it off. I literally put my hand in the air thinking he won the race. I couldn't believe it."

Neither could Marco, who was unable to hold off Hornish down the front stretch on the final lap. "I thought the race was mine; I really thought it was," Marco said. "I don't know where that speed came from. ... It's a bummer." Marco is 0 for one at Indy, but Michael still hasn't won in 15 tries. His father, Mario Andretti, had just one Indy win in 28 starts. Together, the three Andrettis have posted 21 top-10 finishes. Marco is a lock to join Mario (1965) and Michael (1984) as Indianapolis 500 rookies of the year.

Patrick: "I'm mad"

Danica Patrick always will have fond memories of May 2005, when her high practice speeds and fourth-place Indy finish thrust her into an international spotlight. May 2006 won't rank quite as high on her list ... although she had her moments Sunday.

Patrick struggled for most of the month with her No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing machine; in some of the early sessions, she was running near the rear of the pack. She rallied on Pole Day, though, qualifying 10th, and wound up eighth in her second Indianapolis 500.

"I'm mad, because we were running farther up than that," said Patrick, 26. "I think we could have ended up fourth or fifth." Patrick, the '05 rookie of the year, was in fifth place with 20 laps to go before falling back.

"We took a car that wasn't fast enough to be a winner, and we hustled it around the track and finished," she said. "That's half the battle at Indy."

Patrick is the fourth -- and most successful -- woman to compete at Indy, following Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James and Sarah Fisher.

Hot laps

The purse was $10 million, of which Hornish will collect about $1.5 million. ... After four of 14 IRL races, Hornish trails leader Helio Castroneves by 12 points in the standings. Dan Wheldon is third, five behind Hornish. ... Team Penske has 14 wins at Indy, the most of any entrant. ... The thermometer reached 89 degrees in Indianapolis, the fourth-highest race-day reading in the event's 90-year history.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A146364493