Michael Andretti says that he is fully behind his son Marco’s decision to reduce his IndyCar commitments and branch out into other forms of motorsport.
Marco Andretti announced this afternoon that he was scaling back on the number of IndyCar races in which he’d participate but that he would explore other opportunities within the sport, in particular citing sportscar racing as being of major interest.
Michael added Marco to his team for the 2006 IndyCar season, and saw him fall just 0.0635sec of winning his first attempt at the Indianapolis 500, beaten only by a late charge from Team Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr.
Later that year, Marco Andretti scored his first win on strategy in hotly-debated circumstances, and went on to finish seventh in the championship.
In four of the next five years, he was top-eight in the seasons’ final points table, clinching a second win at Iowa Speedway in 2011 after a tight battle with KV Racing’s Tony Kanaan, and adding several more podiums.
In 2013, after an offseason spent at Rob Wilson’s race driver school in the UK, Andretti appeared to have turned a corner, producing great consistency in an ever deeper field of talent to land fifth in the points race – just a year after fading to only 16th.
Since then, however, it has been a struggle for Marco to crack the top 10 in the championship, and last year he was only 20th – admittedly after some bad luck in terms of reliability and incidents – and had only one top-ten finish to his name. The only light in his dark year was pole – the sixth of his career – at the Indianapolis 500.
His father Michael, who lies fourth in the all-time Indy car winner standings with 42 victories, said he understands his son’s decision, and expressed sympathy – and empathy – for trying to plow his own furrow. Michael’s father is multi-faceted motorsport icon Mario Andretti.
Said Michael: “Marco and I have discussed this at length. I both support and respect his decision to take a focus on other areas of life, and maybe even other forms of motorsport.
“We were working on a full-season IndyCar entry for him, but he decided he wanted to take a different direction and I respect him for making that decision.
“I think for any multi-generational athlete, it can be really challenging to find your own ground and make your own name on top of your family’s. Marco has always had the courage to chart his own path and I’m proud of the career he’s built for himself and the person he’s become. I know this decision wasn’t easy.
“But, like he has said, this is not retirement. He has some great accomplishments behind him and I think he still has many more ahead of him. He’s offered to help us out with some testing [starting next Tuesday at Sebring].
“I’m looking forward to having him back with us for the Indy 500, and hopefully maybe a few more races through the season.”
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