By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
After 15 full seasons in the NTT IndyCar Series, Marco Andretti announced on social media Friday he’ll scale back on racing this year.
The 33-year-old carefully thought about his future as a racer, including speaking with his father Michael Andretti until deciding now it’s time to hit the reset button.
“I appreciate (Michael’s) openness and for allowing me the flexibility to map out my own course going forward,” said Marco.
“I am fortunate to be in a position at Andretti Autosport to run the full INDYCAR season if I want to. But, instead, I have decided to change up my direction somewhat – to reset – to do something a little different – look at everything fresh and see where that takes me. And, to me, now seems like the appropriate time to do that.
“I definitely am going to keep driving. I still have a deep passion for it and have unfinished business to take care of and some boxes that I want to check before I consider retiring as a driver.”
Michael confirmed that talks were made of keeping Marco for a 16th season and be the fourth confirmed Andretti Autosport driver. However, when Michael found out that it’s not on the cards, he respected his son’s decision on focusing on different ventures.
“I respect him for making that decision,” said Michael. “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.”
Despite Marco setting his eyes on what he wants to do, two things will remain the same — he’ll still be involved with Andretti Autosport, where over the past couple of seasons, he was a partner of Bryan Herta’s side of the race team.
The other thing that’ll be unchanged is competing in the Indianapolis 500, the race that’s alluded Marco since his first race back in 2006 when he came a straightaway away beating Sam Hornish, Jr. as a 19-year-old.
Last August, Marco became the first Andretti since grandfather Mario in 1987 to lead the 33-car field at Indianapolis. However, his time at the front quickly vanished as Scott Dixon made quick business to take the top spot on the opening lap while Marco floundered to an extremely agonizing 13th.
That was on Marco’s mind when confirming his 2021 plans. He’s determined of becoming the second Andretti to have his engraved on the Borg-Warner Trophy.
“I remain very hungry to win the Indy 500. It is our biggest stage and the place that I feel I bring the most to the table as a driver. I’ve come close there and am in the mix there it seems each year,” said Marco.
“Winning the pole there last year was awesome but that isn’t enough – I know that a victory there is in my future so we’ll try to get that done in the coming years. As such, I have committed to and am looking forward to running the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport this year.”
Michael knows that Friday’s announcement isn’t the end of Marco as a racer and is looking forward of having him join Colton Herta, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi during “The Month of May.”
“Marco has some great accomplishments behind him and I think he still has many more ahead of him,” said Michael, who’ll be looking for his sixth Indy 500 victory as an owner.
“He’s offered to help us out with some testing, I’m looking forward to having him back with us for the 500, and hopefully maybe a few more races through the season.”
While his aspirations of lifting the dreaded “Andretti Curse” is apparent, it didn’t meant the 105th Indy 500 (scheduled on Sunday, May 30) will be the only race he’ll compete.
Marco added that he’s eyeing on running other IndyCar races, but also interested in running other racing disciplines with emphasis on running sports cars with Jarett Andretti, Marco’s cousin and the late John Andretti’s son.
“In addition to being squarely focused on the Indy 500, I might also take a look at running some other races on the INDYCAR schedule as the season progresses, in order to remain “car fit.” I have also offered to help the team with some testing and other activities along the way. And, I may look at different opportunities in all of motorsports,” Marco stated.
“I also want to do some sports car racing – maybe even get the chance to do IMSA events with my cousin Jarett, which would be a lot of fun for me. I’ll be looking into other sports car opportunities as well in the coming months and welcome discussions in that regard. Marquee events like the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Le Mans would be on that list for sure.”
In 248 starts, Marco scored victories at Sonoma in 2006 (his rookie year) and Iowa five years later. Other accomplishments include his six poles, 20 podiums and finishing a career-best fifth in the championship trail in 2013.
Time will tell what Marco’s performances at Indy and wherever he’ll compete behind the wheel will look like, but the excitement is clear from the third-generation racer.
“I am excited for what the future holds for me both on and off the track and, again, am grateful to dad and Andretti Autosport for allowing me the freedom to change things around as I’d like and to proceed forward a little differently this upcoming season,” Marco concluded.
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