20 March 2012
Marco Andretti set for landmark 100th race
Marco Andretti will be making his 100th start in the IZOD IndyCar Series with this weekend's race on the streets of St Petersburg that gets the 2012 season underway.
Marco Andretti seemed rather startled when reminded what a personal landmark in his IZOD IndyCar Series career this weekend's season opener at St Petersburg will be for him.
"Yeah, well, that's right. My hundredth race," he mused. "All I could say is I wish I had a little more to show for it. It definitely doesn't feel like going into my seventh year already in IndyCar ... It's been fun and stuff like that. But now it's time to string together a few wins."
Marco did return to victory lane in 2011 for the first time since his rookie season in 2006, when he won a famous duel against former Andretti Autosport team mate Tony Kanaan to clinch the oval race at Iowa Speedway. It was a lean four seasons in between, not helped by the inevitable pressure of his famous surname.
"The pressure of the family, yeah," he conceded. "The way I look at it is I show up at the race weekend because I want to win, not because they won at that place. I show up because I want to win for me. That's it."
But the forthcoming season is going to be radically different for Marco as it will be for all the IndyCar drivers and their teams, with a complete technical overhaul of the series on both the chassis and engine front for teams to cope with.
"It's actually not that different from the old car - I always say it still has four wheels!" joked Marco when asked how different the new car felt. "A lot of the things that worked on the old car are working now. It actually has more grit and more down force and stuff like that, so that's always fun for a driver.
"I guess the biggest thing you get used to is probably the brakes, the carbon brakes," he continued. "I've driven it in F1 and the P2 car, but with these cars it's a little different. The tyres are maybe can use a little more grip on the last part of the braking when you lose the downforce we're dealing with some locking and stuff like that."
Marco's father, Andretti Autosport team boss Michael Andretti, made the call to switch the team to Chevrolet engines in 2012 after several years of working with Honda while they were the sole engine suppliers to IndyCar. Marco is quick to say that he's happy with the change, and things that Chevy will be the marque to beat in 2012.
"I definitely have been pleased with Honda and the reliability, we've had a great relationship with them," he said. "[But] last time Chevy was in the series, they were the ones to beat. I mean, they really were ... I think we made the right decision, and we have all the confidence in the world in those guys, so it's going to be fun."
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