Marco Andretti, driver of the No. 27 Snapple Honda for Andretti Autosport, is not only racing on his home track in Pocono this weekend, but he is also feeling ‘in a good place’ in his eleventh year in IndyCar.
“I feel like I’m just coming into my own as a driver,” Andretti said. “I think it took a little too long, but I feel I’m in a good place.”
“I feel like we can compete anywhere we roll off,” Andretti continued. “That’s a good feeling.”
While Andretti feels he can compete anywhere, he is definitely looking forward to competing at the track where his family has so much history. In fact, his grandfather Mario has won at Pocono, his father Michael has finished third, and all three generations, including Marco, have sat on the Pocono Raceway pole.
“If this track was anywhere in the world, I would love to race here,” Andretti said. “I honestly think it’s made for these race cars.”
“It’s such a challenge, it’s so fun, and it presents good racing. And selfishly I can stay in my own bed.”
Andretti has had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Pocono, having had two starts, one from the pole, but only has a ninth place best finish to show for it. He can, however, make some history at the track if he completes 200 laps at Pocono and then the final 85 laps of the season at Sonoma.
If that occurs, Andretti would have completed 2,232 laps, joining competitor Tony Kanaan in the history books with his 3,305 laps completed.
Andretti may be in a good place but he will also be facing some challenges at a race track that is definitely unique, as well as tricky to boot. And this weekend, the race will pose an even bigger challenge with the introduction of the new aero kit that occurred for the 2015 season.
“I think it’s unknown because of how unique this place is,” Andretti said of the new aero package at Pocono. “We’re pretty similar to Indianapolis, I guess you could say, with just the configuration of the car, except for the rear wing, I believe.”
“Every track we’ve gone to this year has seemed to present a unique challenge. It’s different all the time. You can’t just roll off with previous setups and be successful.”
“We’ve been really working at it, just trying to stay with it.”
While comfortable at present, Andretti also has had some manufacturer changes to face when it comes to racing at his home track. In 2013, he ran with Chevy as his manufacturer and then last season ran with Honda as he is now.
“Quite honestly, I think Honda definitely had the better fuel mileage in 2013. But that was with the single turbo,” Andretti said. “As soon as they went to the double, I think Chevy definitely caught up in that respect.”
“But 2013 was too good to be true for a while,” Andretti continued. “We got a little mixed up with strategy. I don’t remember exactly the scenario. We led a ton of laps (88). The car was so good.”
“Then last year was my fault,” Andretti said. “I had a pit-lane violation. Even with one short yellow, we were able to keep it in the top-10 or come back to the top-10.”
“We had a decent car.”
Andretti is also feeling in a good place as far as his No. 27 team, including racing under the watchful eye of his father.
“Quite honestly, it’s been really good,” Andretti said. “I wouldn’t change anything on the 27 stand. Dad is extremely good at calling races. Dad and I, we’ve been getting along great.”
“I think we’ve been stronger. We let a few go, but I’m really happy with the 27 team in general across the board.”
“I don’t really know anything otherwise. We’ve just been making this deal work.”
Although Andretti acknowledged being in a good place behind the wheel of his IndyCar ride, he also thought that he might just consider a Formula One opportunity if offered.
“It depends on a lot of the logistics, for sure,” Andretti said. “I mean, Formula One is still the cream of the crop for me.”
“Having said that, it would be tough to leave because I am just coming into my own as a driver. Formula One would be like starting all over. The expectations wouldn’t be high maybe with that team. If you can go beat your teammate over there, that’s what people look at.”
“Yeah, I would definitely take a strong look at it. But my heart right now lies over here. Those cars are definitely fun, but this is what I’ve grown up doing.”
And just as he said for now, Andretti is in a good place and focused on getting the best finish that he can at Pocono, especially since he technically is not yet out of contention for the championship. Andretti currently sits in the seventh spot in the standings.
“It takes me staying out of trouble,” Andretti said. “You know, this is definitely one race that counts, especially this year.”
“If I have any hope for the title, it’s a must win for me. Even with a win, I need some misfortunes of a few other drivers.”
“Maybe some of the guys at the front, they’re going to be conservative, I just have to worry about me and try to maximize what we can do. The rest will hopefully take care of itself.”
“But we have to win this one for sure.”