Last year, Marco Andretti had a solid year – highlighted by fast cars and consistency throughout the season.
“I think ’13 was a good start to the direction I wanted to go,” Andretti said earlier this week. “We confirmed a lot of my work is in the right direction anyway. We just need to keep plugging away with that, and we have. I think I made gains since. I’m more confident going into ’14 than I was ’13. That’s a good start.”
Andretti says he’s very pleased with their consistency and his solid results on the street courses, where he’s struggled in the past. That success can be contributed to the driver coach that he worked with last off-season.
Part of turning those street and road course performances into even stronger ones will be improving on qualifying.
“There were a lot of races last year we had to come from the middle through the back of the pack. Nowadays it’s how we’re measured, is qualifying,” he said. “Back in the day, dad (Michael Andretti) used to not even focus on qualifying, hardly even care about it. Everybody in the field knew he was coming halfway through the race. It’s a lot harder to achieve that nowadays with the competition, the spec cars. Everything is so close. It’s hard to start in the back in March to win a race. But I need to start further forward.
“My race craft is there, stuff like that. It’s been more difficult coming from the back. I want to be in the Fast Sixes all year.”
Andretti added that as long as they improve 20% on the road and street courses, they should be fine.
Beyond that, Andretti says the secret to winning the championship is also capitalizing where they’re dominant. Andretti dominated some of the oval races last year, though fell short of victory.
“I think that’s what really took us out of the championship the second half of the year last year,” he commented. “I think the races we know we can win we just have to win. If we’re able to do that, string a few together, I think we can be champions.”
A lot of eyes are on Andretti simply because of the name and people expecting the third generation driver to be a champion. There is also some added pressure from others due to the fact that he is driving for his father’s race team, Andretti Autosport. In speaking of driving for his father, Andretti says that there’s pluses and minuses to it.
“It can be a hindrance sometimes perception-wise for sure,” he added. “People thinking that’s my only option. To me, I’ve been dealing with that sort of thing ever since I stepped into the sport.
“To be in the position I’m in now, really any IndyCar driver, you need to be lucky at some point, you know what I mean? But from there, definitely big shoes to fill. The positives are that he’s been a driver before, so he knows what we go through. He knows when to step in, when not to. That helps.”