Marco Andretti Eyes Two Prizes

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 28 2009
Photo courtesy of the Indy Racing League

Photo courtesy of the Indy Racing League


By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Win the Indianapolis 500. Win the IndyCar Series championship.

That formula worked for Dario Franchitti in 2007 and Scott Dixon in 2008, and Marco Andretti has been taking notes. Asked to outline his goals for the 2009 season, the third generation open-wheel star said he basically wants it all _ beginning with victory in the 93rd edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“Indy, it’s the biggest race in the world,” said Andretti, who finished third at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last May. “Indianapolis, as a team we’ve been super-competitive there every year.” Recall that Marco finished second to Sam Hornish Jr. by 0.0635 seconds in his Indy 500 debut in 2006 with Andretti Green Racing, the team co-owned by father Michael Andretti.

“And then the championship, I definitely think we’re going to have a shot,” said Marco, who ranked seventh in points last year with the help of six top-10 finishes. “I think the word for me this year is definitely consistency, because we’ve led at a lot of different types of racetracks in different years but were unable to capitalize. So this year, I’m going to be looking to capitalize at a lot of races. I don’t see a weak spot in the championship for our whole team.”

Andretti, driver of the No. 26 Meijer Dallara/Honda, spent part of the long off season barnstorming the globe for Team USA in the A1GP Series.

“If you’re going to stay busy, you might as well stay in a car,” said Andretti, 22, who earned his first career IndyCar Series victory on the Infineon Raceway road-course in 2006. Marco became the youngest pole-winner in series history last summer when he qualified P1 at The Milwaukee Mile. He led eight races for 330 laps but has yet to recreate the buzz surrounding his Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year season in ‘06.

“When I talk consistency,” Marco said, “I mean the whole team. But also in my driving…just my whole part, my whole role. I play a big role in trying to make good race cars because that’s what lets us do the job. In the past, I’ve had cars that were just absolutely diabolical and then cars that could win the races, and we were unable to capitalize. When the car is not working, that’s where it’s more into my hands in the race, where you just need to bring it home as best the car can do.” 

Michael Andretti, who finished third to Hornish Jr. and Marco in the dramatic 2006 Indy 500, has been taking notes.

“I feel real positive about this year for Marco,” the elder Andretti said. “I think we made some really good changes within his team, and I know he’s been working really, really hard. And I think the experience with A1GP stuff is going to be good. It’s really tough right now to be an up-and-coming driver because it’s hard to get racing miles, or even testing miles anymore, because of the rules. Every mile that Marco does, he’s just going to be that much better. And I feel that this could really be his breakout year. I feel good about that.”

The Indy Racing League’s season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg  is scheduled for April 5.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 28 2009
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