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A happier Andretti returns to Indy 500 as part-time racer | Sports



INDIANAPOLIS — Marco Andretti does not need to be on the monitor if he isn’t racing. He’ll watch on tv, although, and supply recommendation from 650 miles away.

Andretti was at residence in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, watching Andretti Autosport race the street course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway final week when he had an thought: Colton Herta may pit early and doubtless win the race.

So Andretti texted the concept — throughout the race — to Herta’s father, Bryan. As strategist for his son, the elder Herta referred to as Colton in two laps ahead of deliberate and ended the day in victory lane.

“I was really on the horn with Bryan. That’s fun to me,” Andretti said.

It validated Andretti’s skills as a strategist, but the third-generation racer doesn’t envision himself sitting atop a pit box and calling another driver’s race. Instead he’s transitioning into semi-retirement and finding his way as something other than an IndyCar driver from one of motorsports’ famed families.

Andretti walked away from his full-time ride after the 2020 season and only returned for last year’s Indianapolis 500. He’s back again this month for a 17th attempt at winning the race that has tormented his family; Mario Andretti, his grandfather, has the only victory among five different Andrettis there.

When Marco starts the May 29 race, he will pass his father in career starts. Dad Michael Andretti went 0 for 16, while Mario Andretti’s 1969 victory was his only win in 29 starts.

“I think I’m more like my grandfather, I just enjoy driving,” Marco Andretti mentioned. “This year I’m going to have more starts than Dad, which is crazy to me. When he tries to tell me something, I can say he doesn’t know what he’s talking about now.”

Michael Andretti is the Indy 500 strategist for his 35-year-old son, who got here to his personal resolution to shift away from the household enterprise.

Andretti Autosport struggled to seek out sponsorship for Marco forward of 2021 and he’d had sufficient, anyway. Racing wasn’t all that enjoyable anymore, and 9 straight seasons with out a victory had taken its toll.

The Andretti’s have invested a lot into the Indy 500, and when Marco lastly had his personal second within the highlight, it solely resulted in one other disappointment. Marco gained the pole in 2020 — when the race was run in August with out spectators due to the pandemic — however he did not even lead the primary lap and completed a crushing thirteenth.

His finest end over the remaining seven races of that 2020 season was fifteenth and he fell out of eligibility for the IndyAutomobile prize fund that helps financially assist full-time groups. It was then that Marco determined he’d had sufficient.

“What I put into it, I felt like I wasn’t getting that out for various reasons,” he said.

Still, the Andrettis can’t stay away from the 500. Marco finished an unremarkable 19th last season, and this year’s Indy 500 will be his first IndyCar event in a year.

“This is the one that I live my life around,” he mentioned. “I get jealous here and there. I’m like, ‘Ah man, I wish I was there.’ But a lot of times I don’t. A lot of times when it’s 100 degrees out there, I’m good watching.”

He lives his life the way he chooses now. He’ll return to Tony Stewart’s six-race summer exhibition series for a second season when it resumes June 18. He’d like to run in IMSA sports cars, but only in the top class because he’s only interested in running for wins.

Other than that, he has business interests outside of racing and doesn’t envision a role for himself should his father eventually land the Formula One team he’s pursuing.

Stepping away from racing has been liberating in all aspects of his life, he said, even fan interactions.

“You sign 100 autographs and the 101st person is going to hate you, but you try to spend more time, try to put more of a smile on your face, which I think is coming natural with my decision,” he said. “I’ve been able to mold my life the way I want to do it now, and even go have fun on SRX and do fun stuff. It still keeps me in the game. I’m not fully retired. It keeps me working, and I put all my energy into this race. I’m good without the grind of a full season.”

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