EXCLUSIVE – Marco Andretti doesn’t believe in a family curse, but he’s fine if you do.
The third-generation driver on Sunday won pole position for the upcoming Indy 500, becoming the first Andretti to do so since his grandfather Mario started from the front in 1987.
Mario dominated that race until a mechanical issue ended his chances for victory with just 23 laps to go. It was of many disappointments he, son Michael, Marco and other members of the Andretti clan have suffered in the Indy 500 since his 1969 win made the family name synonymous with speed.
Andretti said the curse is a funny story the family is happy to lean into for the media, but not something he takes in the car with him — despite having lost in his rookie outing on the final straight with dad right behind him in third place.
“Internally with our family, we know how blessed we are, and how many tries we’ve had as a family, but we’re safe and we do a very dangerous sport. And, so for us to be unscathed, we’re not cursed, we’re blessed,” Andretti told Fox News Autos.
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He’s finished third three times since, but has never entered the race looking faster than he does this year. It’s the first time the event has been scheduled outside of the month of May, having been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I hope it doesn’t exist in August,” he joked of the curse.
Andretti won the pole with a four-lap average speed that was just .017 mph faster than Scott Dixon’s and is well aware how close that is.
“One thousand different things. There’s so many things can make that little of a difference,” he said.
“It was the man upstairs that gave me a boost to put me ahead of him.”
The 33-year-old won’t just be looking to end the Andretti drought at Indianapolis, but his own in the IndyCar series, where he hasn’t taken a checkered flag since 2011.
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Starting from pole is no guarantee of a win, but it’s happened 21 times in the 103 runnings of the Indy 500s to date, including Simon Pagenaud’s victory last year.
Andretti, who along with his father is a co-owner of his Andretti Herta Autosport team, says strategy and execution will be just as important as speed after the green flag flies on Aug. 23 without any fans in the grandstands, due to COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s going to be more of a track position race. These cars are so wrung out, the drivers and the teams are so good that everything is so close,” he said.
“The stars have to align to win the Indy 500.”
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