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Andretti Earns “Refreshing” First Top-Five In 2017

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Without question, Marco Andretti has struggled over the past two Verizon IndyCar Series seasons.

After failing to post a single top-five in his last 32 starts, the third-generation pilot took advantage of the same early pit strategy used by eventual winner Josef Newgarden in Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto to move into contention following the second full course caution of the race caused by Tony Kanaan. While he was unable to catch Newgarden, his teammate Alexander Rossi, nor James Hinchcliffe in the remaining laps, Andretti held on to finish fourth.

“It’s just refreshing,” said Andretti to POPULAR SPEED on Sunday. “It would’ve been nice to get a trophy, but we’re one short of that.”

The previous two years have been a trying period for the 30-year old veteran. After placing in the top-ten on the championship points table in eight of his first ten seasons, including a career-best fifth in 2013, the Pennsylvania-native plummeted to 16th in 2016, ending up no better than eighth in any race. Entering Sunday’s action at Exhibition Place, Andretti’s top showing was a sixth at the conclusion of an attrition-influenced race at Texas Motor Speedway.

“It’s a start for me to put the fun back into the sport.” said the No. 26 Honda pilot. “I had a really good balanced car today, (it’s about) trying to get some podiums, get some wins, and put some more hardware in the trophy case.”

The sight for Andretti’s best performance to date is fitting that it is in Toronto. The famous racing family has greatly influenced the event since its debut in the CART championship back in 1986. Marco’s father Michael won at Exhibition Place a record seven times. Dad’s also played a role in maintaining the race, having served as a promoter when action returned following a hiatus in 2008 following the reunification of North American open-wheel competition. Although Andretti is no longer directly involved in overseeing the Honda Indy Toronto, the success enjoyed was not diminished on Sunday.

Ashley McCubbin contributed to this report.

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Matt Embury

An auto racing writer for over five years, Matt Embury's interest in auto racing was influenced from his father's side of the family. His first recollection of live racing attendance was in the early 1990s watching winged sprint car action at Butler Motor Speedway in Michigan with his uncle and dad. A major follower of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Matt has attended six previous Indianapolis 500s and rates Tony Kanaan's long awaited victory in the 2013 edition of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing as his favorite memory. Outside of following auto racing, Matt is an avid fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish athletics program and can often be seen at home games throughout the season or running the audio controls on several ND-related radio programs. A native of Springboro, Ohio, Matt now resides in Mishawaka, Indiana.