By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Years in IndyCar: 12
Laps led: 990
2017 Team: Andretti Autosport
If any driver is ready for a career resurgence in 2016, it is Marco Andretti.
The third generation driver finished 16th in the standings, his lowest championship finish. Andretti frequently struggled to find speed throughout the year while the rest of the Honda-powered Andretti Autosport squad had their share of ups and downs.
The 29-year-old admitted during IndyCar’s media day that much of his frustration stemmed from a frustrating finish in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. At a race where he consistently is a threat to win, he saw his chance for a victory ruined by a pit miscue as teammates Alexander Rossi and Carlos Munoz claimed a 1-2 finish.
“I let Indianapolis ruin the rest of my season mentally,” he said. “I drove extremely frustrated and you’re never going to be fast that way. I wasn’t having fun, I wasn’t smiling. Obviously, you’re not smiling when you’re not doing good, but I sort of let it spiral out of control.”
He finished 13th in the race – his lowest finish in the years that he has completed the 500 miles.
A season-best ninth place finish at the season finale at Sonoma Raceway gave him a boost heading into the offseason.
Andretti was in a similar spot in 2012. That year he finished 15th in the standings and spent the offseason training and working with a driver coach to develop his racecraft.
2013 saw the fruits of that labor as he scored a couple of podiums and nearly won Pocono and Milwaukee only to lose them for reasons beyond his control.
He is taking the same approach this year with a more relaxed attitude.
The two-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner willingly admitted that he needs to look forward, not backward if he wants to succeed.
Andretti Autosport has also made some wholesale engineering changes. The team has recruited Chip Ganassi Racing engineer Eric Bretzman to oversee the team’s engineering program. Bretzman’s hire has already seen some positive feedback throughout the team.
Andretti retains Nathan O’Rourke as his lead engineer but has a new race strategist in former teammate Bryan Herta. His father Michael previously served in that position. Herta was instrumental in developing Alexander Rossi’s racecraft throughout his rookie season.
Herta’s calm demeanor is a good balance to Andretti’s aggressiveness, which could potentially move Andretti back to the front.