/ IZOD INDYcar SerIeS / MARCO ANDRETTI
Breakthrough race: at Motegi, Marco stopped overdriving
the tire and finished in third. (BeLOW) He, Ziggy Harcus,
eddie Jones and allen McDonald are back together for 2012.
and his trusted race engineer Eddie Jones, and McDonald
overseeing the team’s technical progress, can Andretti Autosport
put itself up with Chevrolet-powered rivals like Team Penske?
Says Michael: “I’m really looking forward to working with
“Now I’m desperate to get back on
Chevrolet and the other three Chevy teams. So far we’ve
worked well together to make this the engine to beat, so that,
hopefully, we’re just racing each other once the season starts.
And, yeah, I think we’re going to be right there with Penske.”
His son concurs. “First, it’s about spending money on R&D
and we’re prepared to do that. Then it’s applying that knowledge
so the cars roll off the trailer strong, and I have every confidence
in the world in the guys at Andretti Autosport. And then it
comes down to myself and Ryan giving our engineers good
feedback and dialing it in.”
a street circuit and put what I’ve
learned into practice”
With Hunter-Reay continuing for a third season with
Andretti Autosport, Marco has a great gauge for how he’s
performing on all types of circuit. And Michael is confident his
son is ready for the challenge of helping Ryan lead the team
back to its previous position of prominence.
“I’m aware there’s still stuff for him to learn,” says Michael,
“but look at Dario. He was very good, and we saw he’d be great
one day, but that day happened when he was 34. I think Marco
is going to be that guy when he hits 27. We’ll be like, ‘Holy crap!
Where did he come from?’ That’s my feeling. Hope it’s right.”
Marco himself can’t wait that long. “I think there have been
distractions in the past – losing Dario, losing Tony, losing
Danica – but now there’s real camaraderie here. We have all our
team lineup in place and we’re all on the same page.
“We have no excuses. Let’s go win races.”
24 JANUARY 2012 racer.com
MCDONALD: “I’M LOVIN’ IT”
Technical director believes AA can match Penske
“The team debriefs are really
constructive with lots of ideas. Ryan
has very good insight into what’s
important and what isn’t on a street
course setup because by it’s nature it
can’t be perfect. At ovals, Marco is very
forceful in what he thinks and what he
wants. He’s got a really good technical
feel for them and you can totally rely on
his feedback to send the engineers and
the other drivers in the right direction.
And that’s also true of road courses, to
be honest. Look at Motegi; Marco led us
all when the rest of us were lost.”
Yet McDonald has higher hopes still
for Andretti in 2012. “The old car was
about carrying speed on road courses,
and the super-flowing style was something
he had trouble adapting to. I think if the
new DW12 has significant horsepower, it
will suit Marco well. If it’s a bit more about
stopping as late as possible, turning in
hard and going, I think he’ll excel.
“Andretti Autosport is on a big
upswing and there’s a positive attitude.
Putting all the form we showed last
season into some consistency, there’s
no reason why Marco and Ryan can’t
compete for the championship.”
It was one of the compelling
moments of Bump Day at Indy
this year. Michael Andretti,
Andretti Autosport car from the field.
Marco, sitting in his car waiting, really
didn’t need to hear his dad’s mental
turmoil, just his conclusion. Eventually
he yelled: “Dad! Just tell me what you
want me to do, and I’ll do it, OK?”
He was given the order to go. Four
intense laps of what Marco described as
“in the wall or in the show”-style
driving resulted in 27th on the grid. In
bald terms, not great; but for that car
and in those circumstances, heroic.
Michael would soon lure back Allen
McDonald from (Indy-polesitting team)
Sam Schmidt Motorsports. What McDonald
has found on his return, in terms of driver-
to-engineer interaction, impresses him.