20 March 2012
Marco Andretti set for landmark 100th race
For everyone in the paddock, preparation for St Pete has been all about team mates needing to work closely together for the benefit of the squad as a whole - as Marco was quick to agree.
"I can say we're three guys with the same goal in mind," he said of his relationship with Andretti Autosport team mates Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe. "We all share the same goal. We're all big‑picture thinkers. We're going to work together. We're all going to be truthful to each other and we're going to work together to the last lap because that's the only way we're going to be able to beat these bigger teams.
"We've been progressing nicely as a team. I think me, myself, James and Ryan have been working great together. So far, so good!," he said. "We all share the same goal. We all want to win races. It's all business with us, and the business is racing ... We're going to just focus on winning races, period."
Heading to the traditional season opener on the streets of St Petersburg in Florida, Marco said that he always enjoyed the race here - but hoped he'd get further into the race than he did in 2011.
"Hopefully I don't go upside down in turn one!" he joked. "I think it's going to be great for the fans as usual. I'm a big fan of that place."
Marco's enthusiasm for St Petersburg was shared by his team mate James Hinchcliffe who'll be replacing Danica Patrick in the lime green GoDaddy.com livery in 2012. "I'm beyond excited to race in St Pete this weekend," said the young Canadian driver. "It will be my first time racing this circuit after sitting out last year waiting on sponsorship to come through. It's such a good feeling being able to start the season with everyone else."
St Petersburg was the adopted US home of Dan Wheldon, which will give the weekend an added poignancy as the first IndyCar race since the tragic death of the British two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, something that was particularly on Marco's mind in the run-up to this weekend's race action.
"Obviously, we're going to be driving with very heavy hearts because of Dan Wheldon," he admitted, having been Wheldon's team mate at Andretti Green in 2006. "He was proud to call that place home, so we're going to go there and try to enjoy ourselves and we're going to compete because Dan was a competitor."
Marco will be wearing a special design on his helmet at St Pete in remembrance of Wheldon, combing Marco's traditional look with a "Lionheart" design on the back of the helmet like Wheldon had worn
"The first thing I thought [was that] I don't want to do too much because a lot of it is being thrown in Susie's face, his wife," said Marco. "But I called her and said I'd like to do something, and and basically my painter worked with Dan's, and we came up with something. So excited to see what it looks like!"
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