Marco Andretti ‘Dodging Bullets’ Ahead of 16th Indy 500

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

Though Marco Andretti has self-admittedly never been a fan of Carb Day, he is now the newest member of that fan club.

With Carb Day coming every Friday before the Indianapolis 500, it is the last chance for drivers to take to the 2.5-mile track. Not only to feel out the racecar, but to flush out any potential problems.

Insert Andretti and his No. 98 Andretti Autosport Honda. After finding an issue with the floorboard last weekend, the team discovered a issue with the electrical box during Friday’s rain-delayed final practice.

An issue so severe that, if not for Carb Day session, would have ended Andretti’s Indy 500 on Lap 1, he predicted.

“I’m not a Carb Day fan, but today it saved my Indy 500,” Andretti said Friday afternoon. “That’s why you have Carb Day. There was a bad electrical box we would have found on lap one. That’s what Carb Day is all about. We’re lucky. Everything from here on out is a bonus, so we’re happy.”

Following the undisclosed floorboard issue last weekend as well as a lost injector in the engine, Andretti is beyond thankful to even be in the 105th running of the 500 on Sunday.

“I’m actually lucky we made the race. I’m happy actually,” he admitted after qualifying 25th. “Way happier after Carb Day this year than last [year] even starting on pole. After my first run, I don’t think we would have made the race. I’m lucky we were able to bring that package out to get it in the race. Everything, like I said, is a bonus from here on out.

“We just put a new floor on, which was on paper not as good as my teammate’s. We have bigger issues. I know how to get around this place. I was basically just telling them that there’s something wrong. Even dad would confirm it. We’d be in the meetings, we have to find it.”

Sunday will be a race unlike any in Marco’s long-spanning NTT IndyCar Series career. Following 15 seasons of full-time competition, Andretti switched to a partial schedule for 2021. Specifically, an Indy-only schedule.

Following a month of resolved issues, the 34-year-old third-generation racer has high expectations and some good feelings.

“Every time I’ve said [that I think I can win], I’ve led the race. Eight or nine times, I don’t know the stat,” he said. “Maybe the last [grandfather Mario] heard it was 2006. I’ve had a car to win this race a lot of times. I’ve said that before the race. We just have to see if the stars align.”

More than seven months removed from his last IndyCar race, Andretti has a clear conscience and plenty of experience to return the Andretti name to Indianapolis glory.

“Every year you know you have a car that can do it, it’s nice,” he said. “I wish we had better track position. Beggars can’t be choosers. I’ve dodged a couple bullets already. One was getting in the race with a bad floor, the other was at bad box we would have found on race day.

“I’m really happy. We have to methodically do it and try to get there in a smart way when it counts.”

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