Marco Andretti to make 250th IndyCar career start in Indy 500

Making his lone NTT IndyCar Series start of the season in one of motorsports’ iconic events, Marco Andretti is primed to achieve a milestone start. By taking the green flag in this weekend’s 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the third-generation driver of the Andretti racing family and the No. 98 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda will make his 250th career start in the IndyCar circuit.

A native of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Andretti made his inaugural presence in the IndyCar Series during the 2006 season-opening event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. By then, he was coming off a part-time campaign in the Indy Pro Series, where he claimed three victories and finished 10th in the final standings. Driving the No. 26 Andretti Green Racing Honda, Andretti started 13th and finished 15th in his IndyCar debut after breaking his half shaft early in the event.

After finishing no higher than 12th during his first three IndyCar career starts, Andretti’s opportunity in claiming his first IndyCar victory occurred during the following event, which was the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500, an event his grandfather, Mario, won at in 1969. During a four-lap shootout to the finish, Marco took the lead from his father, Michael, with three laps remaining and had appeared to have the victory sealed. During the final lap, however, Sam Hornish Jr., who restarted in the top 10 and was muscling his Team Penske Honda to the front, made a slingshot move on Andretti at the final straightaway and managed to edge Andretti by 0.064 seconds to emerge victorious. To this day, the margin of victory between Hornish and Andretti marks the second-closest finish in Indy 500 history. Despite losing in a photo finish, Andretti claimed the 2006 Indy 500 Rookie-of-the-Year title.

Entering the penultimate event of the 2006 IndyCar season at Sonoma Raceway in August, Andretti had racked up two additional top-five results and a total of five top-10 results as he was in ninth place in the standings. During the event at Sonoma, Andretti claimed his first IndyCar career victory after leading the final 30 laps. By then, he became the youngest winner in the IndyCar Series at the age of 19 years and 167 days. After finishing 18th during the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway in September, Andretti capped off his maiden IndyCar season in seventh place in the final standings.

Throughout his sophomore IndyCar season in 2007, Andretti, who failed to finish in 10 of 17 scheduled events, only managed to achieve two podium results and a season-best second-place result at Iowa Speedway in June as he finished in 11th place in the final standings. Andretti’s junior IndyCar season in 2008 resulted with the third-generation competitor launching back to seventh place in the final standings in a year where he achieved four podiums, a season-best second place at Homestead, a third-place result in the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 and starting on pole position for the first time in his career at the Milwaukee Mile in June.

The 2009 IndyCar season marked Andretti’s first full-time season where he did not finish on the podium, but he recorded 11 top-10 results throughout the 17-race schedule and finished in eighth place in the final standings.

After recording three podium results, including another third-place result in the Indy 500, and finishing eighth in the 2010 standings, Andretti claimed his second IndyCar career victory at Iowa Speedway in June after leading the final 19 laps and beating the 2004 IndyCar champion Tony Kanaan by nearly eight-tenths of a second. The victory snapped Andretti’s 79-race winless drought dating back to Sonoma 2006. To go along with a podium result at Japan’s Twi Ring Motegi Superspeedway, a ninth-place result in the 97th running of the Indy 500 and a total of seven top-10 results, Andretti finished in eighth place in the final standings for a third consecutive season.

Andretti commenced the 2012 IndyCar season by making his 100th career start at the Streets of St. Petersburg in March, where he finished 14th. By then, Andretti Autosport swapped engine manufacturers from Honda to Chevrolet. After finishing no higher than 11th twice during the first eight scheduled events, he bounced back at Iowa in June, where he started third and finished second behind teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. He went on to claim a pole and an eighth-place result in the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in September before settling in 15th place in the final standings.

The 2013 IndyCar season marked Andretti’s consistent season to date. Commencing the season with a new number, 25, he finished on the podium twice during the first five scheduled events (a third-place result at the Streets of St. Petersburg in March and another third-place result at the Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in May). He then claimed two poles in the summer (Milwaukee Mile in June and Pocono Raceway in July). Recording a total of 15 top-10 results throughout the 19-race schedule, including a fourth-place result in the Indy 500, Andretti capped off the season by finishing a career-best fifth place in the final standings.

With Andretti Autosport returning to Honda engines in 2014, Marco recorded two podiums throughout the 18-race schedule, which included a second-place result at Barber Motorsports Park in April and a third-place result in the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May after leading 20 laps. After claiming seven additional top-10 results, Andretti finished in ninth place in the final standings.

Sporting a new number, 27, to commence his 10th full-time season in IndyCar competition in 2015, Andretti tallied his podium results to 20 as he recorded two throughout the 16-race schedule, including a second-place result at The Raceway at Belle Isle in May and a third-place result at Auto Club Speedway in June. He concluded the season in ninth place in the final standings, which marked his eighth top-10 result in the final standings along with a total of 11 top-10 results.

The 2016 IndyCar season marked the first time since 2009 where Andretti did not record a podium result throughout the season. He managed to finish as high as eighth place during the 2016 season finale act Sonoma Raceway in September before finishing in 16th place in the final standings. The following season, his best on-track result was a fourth-place run at the Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada, before he settled in 12th place in the final standings. By then, Andretti reached 200 career starts in the IndyCar circuit. 

Prior to the 2018 IndyCar season, Andretti Autosport swapped numbers for Marco and teammate Alexander Rossi that resulted with Rossi sporting the No. 27 and Andretti taking over the No. 98. Andretti managed to start on pole position in the first of a Belle Isle doubleheader feature in June, where he finished a season-best fourth place, and finish in the top 10 eight times before capping off the season in eighth place in the final standings.

After finishing in the top 10 five times throughout the 17-race schedule and finishing 15th in the 2019 standings, Andretti claimed the pole position for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 over Scott Dixon in August. The accomplishment marked the first time an Andretti claimed the pole position for the 500 since grandfather Mario made the last accomplishment in 1987. During the main event, however, he did not lead a single lap and finished in 13th place. Throughout the 14-race scheduled that was shortened amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, his best on-track result was 10th place at Iowa Speedway in July as he ended up in 20th place in the final standings.

In 2021, Andretti, who decided to step away as a full-time IndyCar competitor while pursuing other interests, made his lone start of the season in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, where he finished 19th.

The 2022 Indianapolis 500 will mark Andretti’s 17th consecutive entrance in the Indy 500 as he is set to take the green flag in 23rd place of the 33-car field.

Through 249 previous IndyCar starts, Andretti has achieved two victories, 20 podiums, six poles, 1,032 laps led and an average-finishing result of 12.3. He also holds an average-finishing result of 12.4 along with eight top-10 results in 16 previous appearances in the Indy 500.

Andretti is scheduled to make his lone NTT IndyCar Series start of the season in the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29, with the event scheduled to start at 11 a.m. ET on NBC.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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