This driver has never finished higher than seventh in the standings in seven seasons, but he enters this weekend’s race in Sao Paulo, Brazil — the fourth event of the season — with more points than former series champions Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais, Dario Franchitti or Ryan Hunter-Reay.
It’s Marco Andretti.
“Obviously it’s still way early in the season, but I feel a lot better on my outlook," Andretti said. “This is the first time I can actually say that I can see myself winning this championship."
Andretti, 26, has finished third in the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla., and was seventh in the road course race at Barber Motorsports Park and the street circuit in Long Beach, Calif.
That combination has him fourth in the standings, only 12 points behind series leader Helio Castroneves.
Andretti was 18th at this juncture last season, en route to finishing a career-low 16th.
The turnaround has been keyed by limiting his propensity to over-drive the car on non-ovals.
Andretti and Andretti Autosport teammates Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe went to London in November to learn road course techniques taught by noted Formula One driver coach Rob Wilson.
“This is what used to be the weakest part of the schedule for me," Andretti said of non-oval races, “and I find myself just a few points out of the points lead."
Andretti’s said his attitude is better, too, and he cited his response to a blocking penalty received in Long Beach qualifying. The aggravation would have mushroomed into a bigger problem in previous years, he said.
“The old me might have gotten really frustrated … basically taking my head out of it before I was out of it," he said. “Instead, I’m like, ‘OK, we got what we got, let’s try to make the most of it.’
“Basically, (I’ve) just turned the negatives into as positive as we can." Indy Star