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Marco Andretti’s stellar drive in Detroit fails to pay off

Marco Andretti and his #98 Andretti Herta Autosport team sensed an opportunity early in the first race of the Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader weekend.

Severe weather had drenched the Belle Isle Park street circuit, but with the track slowly drying out, drivers would have to make the transition from rain tires to dry slicks.

Andretti was the first driver to do so on a pit stop with 51 minutes remaining in the 75-minute timed race. His subsequent out lap was a fascinating drive (see above), as he furiously attempted to maintain control of his car on the damp circuit.

It may have had fans on the edge of their seats, but unfortunately for Andretti, his strategy didn’t pay off.

Andretti’s hope was to catch a lucky caution and move to the front while the rest of the field had to pit.

That caution came out when Ed Jones spun into the Turn 7 tires with 44 minutes to go. But instead of the pits being closed for an additional lap, they were opened early. As a result, Andretti remained in the rear of the field.

He went on to finish 16th, and expressed his frustrations on Twitter.

INDYCAR later issued the following explanation for their decision:

Race Control was reviewing data and closing rates and based off the information the pack-up was developing. The goal was to get the pits open as quickly as possible for the competitors and fans, but given the circumstances that included cars on different tires and a cold track it did not occur as expediently as was envisioned.

Andretti’s race strategist, Bryan Herta, also confirmed on Twitter that he got a explanation from IndyCar officials:

Andretti’s exploits in today’s race won’t be forgotten soon by fans, but he’ll have to put it aside and refocus quickly for Race #2 in Detroit tomorrow. Qualifying is at 10:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by live coverage of the race beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter