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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

A happy Andretti returns to the Indy 500 as a part-time racer

Indianapolis ( Associated Press) — Marco Andretti doesn’t want to be on the track if he’s not running. However, he would watch on television and give advice from 650 miles away.

Andretti was at home in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, watching the Andretti Autosport race road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week when he had an idea: Colton Huerta could pit early and probably win the race.

So Andretti wrote down the idea – during the race – to Herta’s father, Brian. As strategist for his son, the elder Herta called Colton two laps earlier than planned and ended the day in the victory lane.

“I was really on horns with Brian. It’s fun for me,” Andretti said.

This validated Andretti’s skills as a strategist, but the third generation racer did not imagine himself sitting on top of a pit box and calling another driver’s race. Instead he is transitioning into semi-retirement and finding his way into something other than an IndyCar driver from one of motorsport’s famous families.

Andretti walked away from his full-time riding after the 2020 season and only returned for last year’s Indianapolis 500. He is back again this month to win the race for the 17th attempt that has tormented his family; Mario Andretti, his grandfather, has the only victory there among five different Andrettis.

When Marko starts the race on May 29, he will overtake his father at the start of his career. Dad Michael Andretti scored 0 for 16, while Mario Andretti’s 1969 victory was his only win in 29 starts.

“I think I’m more like my grandfather, I just enjoy driving,” said Marco Andretti. “This year I’m going to start more than Dad, which is crazy for me. When he tries to tell me something, all I can say is he doesn’t know what he’s talking about now.” ”

Michael Andretti is the Indy 500 strategist for his 35-year-old son, who came to terms with his decision to walk away from the family business.

Andretti Autosport struggled to find sponsorship for Marko before 2021 and he has had enough anyway. Racing was no longer as much fun, and nine straight seasons without a win had taken its toll.

Andretti has invested so much in the Indy 500, and when Marco finally had his moment in the spotlight, it only ended in another disappointment. Marko won pole in 2020 – when the race was run without spectators because of the pandemic in August – but he didn’t even lead the first lap and finished 13th.

His best finish in the remaining seven races of that 2020 season was 15th and he missed out on eligibility for the IndyCar Prize Fund that helps support full-time teams financially. It was then that Marco decided he would have had enough.

“What I put in it, I felt like I wasn’t getting out for various reasons,” he said.

Still, the Andretis can’t stay away from the 500. Marko finished 19th last season, and this year’s Indy 500 will be his first IndyCar event in a year.

“That’s what I live my life around,” he said. “I get jealous here and there. I’m like, ‘Ah man, I wish I was there.’ But a lot of times I don’t. Sometimes when it’s 100 degrees, I’m looking good.”

He lives his life as he chooses now. He will return to Tony Stewart’s six-race summer exhibition series for a second season when it resumes on June 18. He wants to race in IMSA sports cars, but only in the top class because he is only interested in racing to win.

Furthermore, he has business interests outside of racing and does not envision a role for himself if his father is eventually chasing a Formula One team.

Moving away from racing has been liberating in all aspects of his life, he said, even the fan interactions.

He said, “You sign 100 autographs and the 101st person is going to hate you, but you spend more time trying to put more smiles on your face, which I think comes naturally to my decision.” is.” “I’ve been able to mold my life the way I want to do it now, and even have fun and do fun things on the SRX. It still keeps me in the game.” . I’m not fully retired. It keeps me working, and I put all my energy into this race. I’m good without the grind of the whole season.”

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