Photo: Joe Skibinski, Indycar
Are we about to see the end of the Andretti line in Indycar?
In a surprise announcement Friday afternoon, Marco Andretti said he will not drive full time in the 2021 NTT Indycar Series. Andretti said he will still enter the Indianapolis 500 and possibly some other selected races. Marco hopes to do some sports car racing in IMSA and explore other racing opportunities.
The 98 did not qualify for the 2021 Leader’s Circle money and US Concrete is not returning as a primary sponsor. Marco has struggled the last few years on track. He won the pole for the 2020 Indianapolis 500 but finished 13th, not leading a lap.
It will be strange but not unprecedented not seeing the Andretti name on track. Mario only did the 500 while driving full time in Formula 1.
Marco’s statement from his Twitter account:
“Upon careful thought over the past couple of months, I have made the decision to make some changes to my racing activities and focus for 2021,” said Andretti. “I recently shared this decision and the changes that I want to make with my dad (Michael) and have spoken at length with him about it. I appreciate his openness and for allowing me the flexibility to map out my own course going forward.
“I am fortunate to be in a position at Andretti Autosport to run the full IndyCar season if I want to. But, instead, I have decided to change up my direction somewhat — to reset, to do something a little different — look at everything fresh and see where that takes me. And, to me, now seems like the appropriate time to do that.
“I definitely am going to keep driving. I still have a deep passion for it and have unfinished business to take care of and some boxes that I want to check before I consider retiring as a driver.
“First and foremost, I remain very hungry to win the Indy 500. It is our biggest stage and the place that I feel I bring the most to the table as a driver. I’ve come close there and am in the mix there it seems each year. Winning the pole there last year was awesome but that isn’t enough — I know that a victory there is in my future so we’ll try to get that done in the coming years. As such, I have committed to and am looking forward to running the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport this year.”
“In addition to being squarely focused on the Indy 500, I might also take a look at running some other races on the IndyCar schedule as the season progresses, in order to remain ‘car fit.’ I have also offered to help the team with some testing and other activities along the way,” Marco said. “And, I may look at different opportunities in all of motorsports. My involvement in my Andretti Autosport entry will continue.
“I also want to do some sports car racing — maybe even get the chance to do IMSA events with my cousin Jarett, which would be a lot of fun for me. I’ll be looking into other sports car opportunities as well in the coming months and welcome discussions in that regard. Marquee events like the (Rolex 24) 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Le Mans would be on that list for sure.
“I am excited for what the future holds for me both on and off the track and, again, am grateful to Dad and Andretti Autosport for allowing me the freedom to change things around as I’d like and to proceed forward a little differently this upcoming season.”
Michael Andretti, Marco’s father, emphasized that the decision was Marco’s alone. Andretti’s decision does not affect James Hinchcliffe’s situation. Hinchcliffe is expected to be confirmed soon as a full time drive for Andretti Autosport for this coming season. Hinchcliffe will not be in the 98.