Long Beach, Calif – Marco Andretti said the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season was arguably the lowest he’s ever felt in his entire racing career. Now, a changed outlook, stronger attitude and better mindset, Andretti is saying that the young 2017 season is the most “confident I’ve felt in my career.”
Andretti, 30, had high hopes for 2016, but a struggling start out of the gates coupled with a rough Month of May in Indianapolis dejected him. Entering the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, Andretti had finishes of 15th, 13th, 19th, 12th and 15th respectively. But, they knew they had something special for the ‘500.
Andretti, was fast in practice, leader in the entire Andretti Autosport for most of them too, and thought he had a car capable of the pole. Worst case, the Fast Nine. Instead, he was the slowest among the five Andretti cars and watched his teammates shine. Two of them qualified on the front row. In the race itself, two of them came home 1-2.
Andretti, limped home 13th.
That basically ended his year. He caved in. He had three top 10’s all season i n2016.
But, he changed his outlook and got mentally and physically stronger and headed into 2017 with a chance to make a quick turnaround. So far, he’s done just that.
In the season opening practice session at St. Pete, Andretti was fastest among the 21 driver field. In the next two practice sessions that weekend, he’d land in the top 10. But, an unnecessary change to his car between practice and qualifying saw him not make it out of the first round of knocking qualifying.
Here we go again right?
Andretti, stayed positive and salvaged a good car and finished seventh on March 12. He’d say that finish wasn’t indicative on how good of a car he had, but a seventh was better than what would have happened last year.
Then, Friday in Long Beach, Andretti was quick again. After experimenting with setups in the first session that left him 12th on the speed chart, he rebounded with a great second practice coming home second in the 45-minute session.
“The UFD car is on edge, but I think that’s where we need to be to be quick,” Andretti said after practice on Friday at the 1.968-mile street circuit. “I like the predictability of the car. I felt like I could drive it to the limit, which is important to be able to wring it out in qualifying. I’m pleased with the pace and the pace we had all through testing, so it’s good to keep the pace here and back it up. We really need to convert this pace into results, and I really think we can.”
In qualifying, Andretti had a big moment in the first round of qualifying as he nearly crashed. Luckily though, Simon Pagenaud had his fastest two laps taken away which took him from first to last. In return, Andretti went from seventh to sixth in Round 1 and advanced to the second round.
He’d qualifying 10th as a result of that.
Andretti, has yet to win at Long Beach in Verizon IndyCar Series competition, and in fact, he’s yet to nab a top five finish either. He has just four top 10’s in eight starts here. But, three of those four top 10’s have come since 2013, and with a fast car and the utmost confidence this weekend, his No. 27 Honda will have a say in who win Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (4 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network).