By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
INDIANAPOLIS – Marco Andretti has the look of someone who is ready.
The 29-year-old has endured a mass of problems that have plagued the potential of his No. 27 Snapple Honda during practice and qualifying leading up to the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Andretti got bumped out of the Fast Nine Shootout, then was hindered with no fifth gear during his qualifying run the next day, but still managed to record the 14th best time.
Overall, practice sessions haven’t been ideal either, but the third-generation star remains uncharacteristically unfazed.
Usually known as an emotional competitor, Andretti turns to experience and pace when pushing through the rough patch, noting that he likely would be more concerned if he was a rookie.
“I think it’s one of those things, it’s my 11th year,” Andretti told Motorsports Tribune. “I think if I would have had these problems that I’ve had this month, as a rookie I’d be freaking out about my race, the racecar (and) not knowing it, you know.
“But I’ve had great racecars here that haven’t won the race. I feel like Monday, the last time I was one track, I was pretty happy with the car. I’d rather start 33rd with a good racecar than on pole without a good racecar.”
Some call it a real thing. Some say it’s worse than having bad luck.
Despite a legendary family lineage that has seen grandfather Mario win the 1969 Indy 500, no Andretti has touched Victory Lane since.
Marco was at the wrong end of a photo finish his rookie year in 2006, losing out to Sam Hornish Jr.
Although another photo finish in reversed order would be welcome, Andretti will take the win any way he can get it. And even with a wealth of problems, he knows they are still very close to the leaders and feels good heading into Sunday.
“I think its experience and knowing you just have to be good in the race,” said a quietly confident Andretti. “That’s the only thing that matters. Honestly, I don’t care if I was quickest everyday this month or if I was last everyday this month – you just have to have a good racecar on Sunday. That’s what makes all the difference.
“Knowing that we’re still within striking distance with a pretty miserable month so far is a good feeling. I’m actually smiling because I keep saying I’d rather be 33rd with a good racecar than on pole with not a good racecar.”
Image: Forrest Mellott/INDYCAR