Marco Andretti and Michael Andretti post-qualifying Indy interview

Marco Andretti and father Michael Andretti talk to the media after qualifying
Tim Wohlford/

MODERATOR: Well, just another day at the track, eh, Marco?

MARCO ANDRETTI: Not exactly. That was new for me.

MODERATOR: Wow, talk about it. Watching, I was surprised that Lloyd put up the time he did. He went out and did it, and all of a sudden the pressure was on you.

MARCO ANDRETTI: I wonder if the track just got better, or what. I knew we were going to be hanging it out at the end there. Our approach was we're going home anyway. Really, I mean, the way we went out, it was either stick it in the fence or stick it in the show. So luckily we were on the upside of that.

MODERATOR: I should hope so. What a weird day. You're in a situation where it's your own teammate, as well, which has to be brutal.

MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I'm feel for Mike, as well. But I think the pair of them are two of the best in the business. Ryan has had terrible luck this year. Fortunately, Mike got a win, but Ryan has been in a position to win a lot of races this year and came short for whatever reason. I was just so fortunate to be on the upside of the circumstances. We were at Mother Nature's mercy for a while there. It was a roller coaster day. When I woke up today, I was ready. I was just ready for it, and I was expecting to be — luckily we were in line at the right place at the right time. But I was expecting it to come down to the wire because I knew we didn't have the speed. We came up with it at the end there, but we were really risking it.

MODERATOR: I've just got to as more, VERSUS coverage, what our coverage was on, did you wink at one of your people before you went out?

MARCO ANDRETTI: I don't know, maybe.

MODERATOR: Looked pretty confident.

MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, but I don't want to come across cocky, either. To be honest, I was happier that we got bumped, you know, because that justifies us going out again. You hate to withdraw your time and then you have to lift, or you crash the thing and you're out of it. So many things could have gone wrong. Somebody was looking over me today. I was lucky.

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q: Marco, what did No-No [?] have to say?

MARCO ANDRETTI: He told me I was leaving too much track at the exit. So I had to trim it out more and just hang on to it, and that's what we did.

Q: Marco, how excruciating was it to be in that cockpit when Jakes went out there and you knew there was no chance that he was not going to be able to be fast enough, and all that was doing was ticking away the time that could have kept you from making a run?

MARCO ANDRETTI: Exactly, but at the same time it was almost like a common courtesy. If I went out and did that speed, I would call it just to let somebody have another go. But I was fortunate things worked out, like I said.

MODERATOR: Other questions?

Q: What's it like to get shot at, but what's it like to just sit in the cockpit that long waiting?

MARCO ANDRETTI: That's my favorite place to be, man. (Laughter)

Q: But were you sweating? What was it like?

MARCO ANDRETTI: You know what? I was in the mindset whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I think coming into like my first run of the month, I knew we were going to be in this position, unfortunately. If we didn't find that big jump in speed that we were down, even my teammate Danica, I knew we were going to be in this position. So I think we were just kind of prepared for it, and we showed up when we had to.

MODERATOR: When Danica came in, she said that she couldn't figure out any rhyme or reason for when you were faster or slower, and that's got to be really disconcerting to a driver.

MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I mean I knew if I could keep it off the wall we were going to have a shot at it because we went pretty risky there at the end, but that's what you have to do, I guess. But, yeah, we've been confused with a few of the speeds out there, but it's not always the fastest car that wins this race. You have to have a good car in the race, and we'll be coming.

Q: Marco, could you talk a little bit about maybe your strategy, if you took any tips from TK last year, he came from 33rd and was in race contention last year, that's kind of the mindset that you'll be in this year. And I know you're just fresh off just getting in the field, but talk a little bit about what Race Day is going to be like fighting through traffic and maybe competing for the win.

MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, I mean studying last year's onboard in preparation for this year, I mean it took me three-quarters of the race to get it toward the front, starting 16th last year. So we know we have a challenge ahead of us. I think it's going to be two different types of races. We're going to need some grip in the field and stuff like that. But, you know, double-file restarts, maybe that will shake it up a bit. From there, I mean it is 500 miles, so Dad could do some magic for us, and hopefully we can be up front and stay there.

Q: Marco, you said yesterday that all you wanted to do was get the car in the race because you thought you could win wherever you were. That's still your mindset?

MARCO ANDRETTI: Darn right. We wouldn't show up, otherwise. I think it would have been nice to be able to work on the race car today, but not a lot of people did weather-wise, they kind of got caught out. I saw yesterday they got a bit of a jump on us, but we have good cars in the race this year. I don't want to jinx us: I was thinking about this last night when I wasn't sleeping; I think this team has been in the top three of this race since '03 or '04.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Ever since we started the team, yeah.

Q: This is for Michael. Just the balance of emotions you've had to go through, I mean, are you happier that Marco got in or are you more bummed that Ryan and Mike aren't?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I knew it was going to come to that. I knew I wasn't going to be happy either way. I'm ecstatic for Marco, and I'm heartbroken for Ryan and DHL and heartbroken for Mike and the Hired Heroes guys and 7-Eleven. It was not a good day. It was probably my worst day as an owner, for sure. Had some real tough times here, and as a driver that probably would have been worse, but as an owner this probably ranks up there as the worst. You know, because I felt so bad for those guys. You know, there for a while I was feeling bad for Danica and GoDaddy, and then it turned to bright for them and then dark for Ryan and Mike. So it was just — I just knew somebody wasn't going to be happy in this team, you know, at the end of the day. We were too close together.

Q: Mike, at 5:00 did you give any consideration to pulling Marco's time down and sending him out right then?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: We talked about it. And it was because of this scenario that happened. I just had a feeling it was going to come down to that Ryan was not going to get a chance to defend himself. But then, you know, the rule is you don't pull a time. So it was a tough decision.

MARCO ANDRETTI: Probably a good thing you guys weren't listening on the radio.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, in the end it's easy to say now. I wish we would have done it because I think Ryan was going to get enough speed to get in. But that's easy to say right now because we would have looked really stupid had Marco gone out and not gone as quick. So it was just one of those deals. We weren't confident enough that he was going to be able to do what he did. If I had known he was going to do 224, he's been holding back all this time, if I had known he was holding back, I definitely would have run at 5:00.

Q: Michael, is your mind just swimming right now what went wrong this week?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: This month. From the moment we unloaded, we had two fast cars, and we had three slow cars. And we've gone through everything to try to figure it out. And we have not figured it out. That's just for speed. I really think once the race rolls around, that doesn't matter and it comes down to handling. That's why I feel confident with the cars we have in the field. I think Marco is going to be the guy to beat, I really do. We just felt that, you know, we've got to get him in the field first, and we're struggling with that speed all week. We knew it, you know, a few days ago. So it's been very frustrating because we can't put our finger on why. It doesn't make sense. I mean, everything theoretically is the same.

Q: Michael, it wasn't that long ago where there were just enough cars entered in this race to form the 33-car starting line.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I wish it would have been like that this month.

Q: Today we sent the last two Long Beach Grand Prix winners home.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Thanks for reminding me of that.

Q: Is it back to the '95?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: '95 it wasn't this competitive, in my mind. I just feel that the team and the quality that was out there this year was just unmatched in the history of this Speedway, in my mind, from the drivers to the teams. I think this was the toughest it's ever been.

MODERATOR: Other questions? Michael, I'd assume it would have been darn disappointing not to have an Andretti in the 100th anniversary event.


MODERATOR: John is in, but from your side of things.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, from a dad's side, I'm ecstatic. But I'm going crazy on one side and crying on another side.

MARCO ANDRETTI: We were torn, when it was raining, we were sitting under the timing stand. I wanted it to rain all day, but for him I don't because Danica doesn't get to go out. So that's the balance we have to deal with.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: That's what comes with having five cars out there. It finally bit us, you know. We've been pretty lucky all these years, and we've had our bad year. At least we have three solid ones in now. Penskes have been here before and missed the whole field and gone home. At least we have some guys out there fighting for Andretti Autosport.

Q: Mike, what specifically happened with Danica's missing tech earlier?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I don't know quite the details on it, but I guess there was a part that was changed from the day before and they threw it out, or they made her go to the back of the line to fix it. It was something in the back of the car, around the brake ducts or something.

Q: Chuck Edwards is not here, but if he was, he would probably say this. You take the Andretti team, the Penske team and the Ganassi team against the field, does that hold up in your mind?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think we're going to be really strong Race Day. Our history is not qualifying here; our history is the race. I really feel like we're going to have good race cars and be really competitive. I think last year we had a similar type qualifying effort, if you remember Tony started 32nd and Marco started deep in the field, and they were both contending for the win. So, you know, I think we're there, and unfortunately I think we're going to be contending for the win with either a Ganassi or a Penske. It's probably the way it's going to come down. There are other good cars, I think Tag and those guys, but they've shown speed. We'll see how they are when you have 33 cars out there because it's a totally different day.

Q: You do have two people in the race that have been in the top five, one in the top two and didn't quite make the Winner's Circle. Do you want to comment on that?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: They're ready to win.

MODERATOR: Very good. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. Thanks, guys.

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