[media-credit name=”LAT Photo” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]Looking at the box scores, you could say it hasn’t been the best start of a season for Marco Andretti as he finished 14th at St. Petersburg and 11th at Barber. However, it doesn’t indicate how strong he has actually been.
“I think so far we’ve just had a bit of bad luck,” Andretti says. “We’ve been on the wrong side of that.”
The last race at Barber Motorsports Park is a perfect example as the team played it conservatively in qualifying, not getting as much speed as they would’ve liked to out of the car, qualifying 13th. In the race, Andretti looked strong in the middle of the race, before contact with EJ Viso caused the front wing to break.
With this year marking the first year with the new chassis, it is a learning experience for everybody, but the 25-year-old says he likes the new chassis so far.
“The racecar, driving it itself, has been a lot of fun,” the Nazareth, Pa. native says. “So far, we’ve been quicker every road course and it’s got a lot of more downforce. As a driver, a lot more grip, you like that. You can carry more speed so on the road courses; we’ve been quicker everywhere we’ve gone so it’s been a lot of fun.”
From road courses to ovals, it has been all about making sure the cars drive well for the drivers while producing solid racing. That diversity of types of tracks is something Andretti enjoys about the series.
“The beauty of the IndyCar series is it is that diverse – small oval, big oval, road course, street course,” he says. “I like the diversity and I think the diversity is key.”
In continuing to work on tweaking the cars, IndyCar Series drivers took to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval for some testing.
“On our own, it’s pretty similar (to the old car),” Andretti says. “But I think in traffic right now, their creating a lot turbulence and you lose a lot of grip so we’re trying to make that better.”
At the end of testing on April 4th, Andretti topped the chart of nine drivers that took the track. Being victorious in this year’s running of the Indianapolis 500 is already on Andretti’s mind after previous success there.
“That’s been my goal,” he says. “I’ve been on every step of the podium there, except the top one. So winning Indy would be great.”
To go along with a win at Indy this year, Andretti added that he would like to stream together a couple of wins together.
Beyond having a new chassis for this year, Andretti has a teammate as Andretti Autosport added James Hinchcliffe to their driver line-up for 2012. Andretti says so far working with Hinchcliffe has been fantastic.
[media-credit id=4 align=”alignright” width=”149″][/media-credit]“A solid guy like him, you just hit the ground running,” he says. “As far as the camaraderie goes, it’s just made it better. The three of us (Andretti, Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay) have been on the same page with one goal in mind, and that’s winning.”
Hoping to find his way to victory lane, Andretti heads to Long Beach, a track that has been very good to the Andretti family.
“My thoughts are to just show up and hopefully be competitive off the truck,” he says. “I’d love to bring home there for the team, but also for the family as it would mean a lot to us. I think it’s where dad (Michael Andretti) had his first and last win, so they’ve been very successful there. So I’m looking to show up to win.”
Success there has been definitely evident for the Andrettis through the years as Mario Andretti won there four times while Michael Andretti won there twice. Andretti Autosport also looks for their third win in a row as a team there as Ryan Hunter-Reay won in 2010 while Mike Conway won last year.
Coming from a family with as much success in the series as the Andrettis, it is very easy for Marco to call both his father and grandfather his racing heroes.
“They are both my heroes and they were both the ones to beat in their eras,” he says. “So it’s tough to pick between the two of them.”