Interview with Indy Car driver Marco Andretti

Published On August 16, 2019 | Interviews, Sports

August 16, 2019 (update Aug 20) – Allentown, PA — A few days ahead of the ABC Supply Pocono 500 Indy Car race, Independent Philly had the opportunity to speak candidly with local resident Marco Andretti, son of former Indy Car Champion Michael and grandson of the legendary Mario Andretti.  And while Marco is a genuinely nice guy who never tires from talking about his dad and granddad, he’s also a talented and tenacious driver in his own right.  Marco has been driving in the Indy Car series since 2006, and earned Rookie of the Year honors with a 2nd place finish at the Indy 500.  His Indy Car career since has been challenging, but he has fought for 20 podium finishes with wins at Sonoma (2006) and Iowa (2011).

Here’s a snippet of our interview with Indy Car driver Marco Andretti:

Independent Philly-IP: Penske and Andretti Autosport teams have dominated Pocono over the past 6 years.  How much do you feel having a 3 (Penske) or 4 (Andretti) driver team has contributed to that?

Marco Andretti-Marco:  Greatly. It really helps with getting the setup right,.  Having this from the roll-off cars helps for pole, qualifying, and race setups.

IP:  Given the Pocono strategy, where do you think, and I know it’s an oval and a 500 mile race so a lot can happen, but where do you think you need to sit on the grid for a shot at the podium?  Or doesn’t that matter as much for Pocono?

Marco:  It really doesn’t – that’s one of those races where, I mean, it is just so long, it’s attrition, and so much stuff happens.  You have to be in the right place ant the right time.  There’s strategy, there’s fuel, and a good car in a 500 mile race is going forward.  You don’t want to be in, maybe, the last quarter because then you’re at risk of going to lap down early on.  So the goal is to stay on the lead lap and just cycle forward as the race goes on, and a good car moves forward.  So qualifying in a 500 mile race (like Pocono) isn’t that important – we’re putting a big emphasis on the race car.

IP: What do you think your team’s top 3 hurdles are to getting a podium finish during the rest of the season?

Marco:  I don’t know. I think when you look at…first of all the 27’s (Rossi’s) firing on all cylinders right now, so I think they’re going to be strong the rest of the year – they’re going for a championship.  As far as us, I think Pocono’s a good shot, I think Portland’s a good shot – I was quick at the test last week. And then Gateway’s a wild card, and obviously with the addition of Laguna, that’s a wild card ‘cuz we don’t know how it’s going to race, we don’t know the passing is going to be, the degradation…so a couple wild cards.

IP: So there’s nothing that stands out to address?

Marco:  No not really – you have to hit all of them.  Indy Car is so competitive.  I mean, even when the car’s right, there’s going to be three other guys that get it perfect. Then you’ve got to be lucky on top of it.  There are a lot of elements, especially over 500 miles, that can hinder or help you.  So it’s everything.  It’s all the all the details – the pit stops, the strategy, the in-and-out laps, the tire fall-off and how you can look out for the tires, the restarts, right place right time – it’s a lot of stuff, you know, and you just have to execute all of it!

{reporter} follow-up question:  So what are your thoughts heading into Pocono?  I mean, ovals haven’t gone your way this year, so what do you have to do to right the ship, especially at a track you really want to do well at so close to home? 

Marco: Yeah, I mean, we just changed Engineers.  Not a lot of people know, so I’m going to have to get my oval conference back, which that used to be my strong suit, you know.  And then road courses was where I struggled, and now we’re okay on the road and street courses.  But yeah, I think if we roll off with a strong car, I don’t see why we couldn’t just be right there.  With this new package, new car, it’s so grip-limited that if you miss a little your you miss a lot.  Indy and Iowa – those were two nightmare races for me.  We just need to get the conference back, but it can happen really fast.  You know, over 500 miles we get comfortable early and anything can happen.

IP: Indy Car and Pocono Raceway’s future together is up in the air after the 2019 race.  If not Pocono in 2020, what local track would you like to race at instead? 

Marco:  I’m really not sure – it’s not local, but maybe Richmond?

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Last year at Pocono, Marco finished 7th out of a field of 22 during a 2-hour-extended competition due to a horrific crash that seriously injured Robert Wickens.  

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Michael, Marco, and Mario Andretti

 

Qualifying for this year’s ABC Supply 500 is on Saturday, with a full day of events and the 500-mile race on Sunday.  This is an entertaining family-friendly weekend with adult tickets starting at just $45, and kids under 12 are free! 

Check out all the race and ticket info at www.poconoraceway.com 

…And be sure to check back at IndependentPhilly.com after the race for a recap and full photo gallery!!

 

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Good Luck Marco!

 

[Photos by Rick Pettine]

[Interview by Rick Pettine]

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