By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Not even before taking the green flag, mayhem happened in Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway where a crash took out three Andretti Autosport entries.
With weather being a concern, the 23-car field were about to take the green flag for the 200-lap event, but at the back half of the field is where things went awry due to the competition checking up.
Alex Palou went underneath Rossi where a few seconds later, Rossi got hit in the back by Simon Pagenaud, who had just gotten hit by Oliver Askew.
From there, it began a bad ripple effect where several others piled into each other as the carnage also collected Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, and Zach Veach. Among those guys, Andretti, Rossi and Veach were already out without completing a single lap.
CRASH at the start!
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) August 29, 2020
For Rossi in particular, it’s the second straight race he got out of his mangled No. 27 NAPA Honda very upset. He quickly went straight to his pit lane to cool down and see what led to his third retirement.
Once he saw the replay, Rossi told James Hinchcliffe what went down and even hysterically laugh about it due to what the crash reminded him of.
“I was driving straight. I don’t know what else to say,” said Rossi. “I’m not laying blame, but it’s very reminiscent of the Michigan iRacing start at the beginning of the year (laughs).”
Veach said that once he was coming off Turn 4, he noticed the bottom lane began checking up, but once he saw Pagenaud, any bid of avoiding the mayhem was gone.
“I kind of moved to the middle and that’s when I saw Pagenaud sideways,” said Veach. “From that point, everyone jammed on the brakes. We tried to stop the best we could, but it seem like everyone was in the same position. The window escape close real quick and it doesn’t leave us with an option.”
From Veach’s car owner Michael Andretti’s point of view, the accountability of the exits of his drivers was on the 25-year-old veteran.
“To me, it looked like Pagenaud got hit from behind by Askew. Unfortunately, it looked like Zach didn’t back off and he took out two of our other cars,” said Andretti. “I think the other two cars could’ve kept going, but Zach never got out of the throttle and totaled three cars now.”
Palou’s car owner Dale Coyne said that he’s fortunate nothing happened to his driver and described what the driver of the No. 55 Honda told him over the radio.
“All he said on the radio was that everybody was starting to check up,” said Coyne. “It was a very late green and when everybody has a tenth of a second reaction time with cars running that close, that’s what’s going to happen. He didn’t hit anything, so he got lucky.”
Pagenaud was one of the drivers who continued up until IndyCar Race Control told him to park it due to not meeting competitive speed before the race’s halfway point.
“It was definitely not fun. I feel sorry for Chevy and Menards because I think we had a good car today,” said Pagenaud. “Never got a chance to test it. Too much excitement for the start of the race. It’s a shame.
“The front slow down. I don’t know if it was the according effect, but it’s very unfortunate. Too much excitement for sure and people need to be more patient.”
Those drivers will have another day to redeem themselves as the second race at Gateway will commence at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.