Andretti already has Indy on his mind
There is an IZOD IndyCar Series race coming up this weekend in Brazil. And while Marco Andretti will give it his best shot, you sense he's already looking ahead to the next one.
|Hornish blew past Andretti like he was standing still coming out of the 4th corner to win Indy in 2006 that many suspect he must have activated a nitrous oxide bottle hidden in his racing suit pocket. |
That's because the next one is the big one, and with this year being the 100th anniversary edition of the Indianapolis 500, there's more anticipation than ever for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
Andretti, the 24-year-old Nazareth native, can't wait to get to the Brickyard for the marquee attraction in his sport, and perhaps still the most famous event in all of motorsports.
But he wants to build some momentum first.
"I look forward to the month of May every year," Andretti said on a teleconference with racing media on Wednesday. "I started looking forward to this year's Indy 500 right after the checkered flag last year. You always want another shot. And this year I am really optimistic about our team because we have cars with more speed. We've had decent, comfortable cars in the past, but we've been a little short on speed."
In five Indy 500 starts, Andretti has a second-place finish and two thirds. It's arguably his best track.
But before he can think about getting to the big oval, Andretti would like to build some momentum with a strong showing at Sunday's Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 [Noon on Versus].
So far this season, Andretti has had mixed results. He had two early exits and finished 24th at St. Petersburg and 26th at Long Beach, but in between, he finished fourth at the Grand Prix of Alabama.
Of course, the entire Andretti Autosport team, headed by Marco's father Michael Andretti, was bolstered by the win recorded by new teammate Mike Conway on the streets of Long Beach. The race in Brazil is another street course.
"For me it's a matter of getting my mojo back," Andretti said. "I have to hand it to my teammates. Ryan [Hunter-Reay, another team member] and Mike have been very quick on the street courses. They are the ones who give me confidence going into Brazil. I share setups and can match my data with theirs. They've all been competitive. If I can figure out how to beat my teammates, I can win this race."
Even though he hasn't won a race since late in the 2006 season, his lone win 74 races ago, Andretti remains a confident driver who believes everything will still come together.
"You're only as good as your last race, but whenever you start to doubt yourself you might as well not show up," Andretti said. "I'm definitely confident. I think we can make something happen in Brazil. I never got a shot at it last year. We were out right at the start.
"But I really enjoy the circuit and our cars are going to be pretty competitive there. Hopefully, we put our money where our mouth is when we show up."
Hunter-Reay agreed with Andretti, saying, "We've been very quick as a team. We've only had three races and some things haven't gone our way. But like Marco said, we're working well together. We've got the right cars for the road and street courses."
But the question is: Will Andretti or a member of Andretti Autosport, which also includes perhaps the hottest name in the sport, Danica Patrick, find their way into Victory Lane on Memorial Day weekend?
The nearly month-long buildup gives drivers and teams an opportunity to catch their breath and get their act together.
"The one thing about that place is that even as a rookie, I'd rather be going to Indianapolis than spending a two-day weekend in Brazil," Andretti said. "There's more time there to find your way. The race is a lot different than most of the month. We've had decent race cars there, but even if you don't have the speed, things have a tendency of playing out different during the race."
Should he win it, especially considering the historic context of this year's race, Andretti said: "It would be unreal. Words couldn't express what it would mean. That place has meant so much to our family. The pace car they are using is the same pace car they used in 1969 when my grandfather [Mario] won it.
"I am wearing a special helmet that will have my same paint scheme, but it will also have portraits and photos of my family members walking down Gasoline Alley together. And me in my rookie year in 2006. It's going to be a special race. I am really looking forward to it." mcall.com