Auto Racing

Marco Andretti hoping to return to Victory Lane at Iowa Speedway

2 IndyCar races this weekend in Newton

Marco Andretti prepares to qualify for the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway in Newton on Saturday,
Marco Andretti prepares to qualify for the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway in Newton on Saturday, July 7, 2018. (The Gazette)
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At 33 years old, Marco Andretti is trying to find balance in life and on the race track.

A third-generation driver, Andretti will return to Iowa Speedway in Newton this weekend, attempting to find Victory Lane for the first time since he won at the track in 2011.

“I love coming back (to Iowa),” said Andretti, whose father, Michael, and grandfather, Mario, are IndyCar royalty. “It’s almost like two different tracks because it used to be so smooth when I had most of my success. We need to get our car back to Victory Lane and we’re not coming with our typical approach or setup since we’ve had a tough couple of years here.”

While racing, Andretti is “trying to have the balance between the blind speed of a rookie with no concerns or knowledge and tying that in with my 15 years of experience that tells me when to go for it and when the risk isn’t worth the reward.”

In life, it’s equally tricky.

“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword,” Marco said of his Andretti surname. “I’m blessed to be in the situation that I’m in with my family, but I think the love of driving is so pure and I have to do it for myself and not for them.

“The expectations are humongous with what my dad and grandpa were able to achieve, but I’m tough on myself. I just want to have fun, smile, race cars and do well at it.”

Andretti attended his first race at Indianapolis at just 2 months old when his grandfather captured the Indianapolis 500 pole and led 170 of 177 laps before finishing ninth with a broken valve spring.

His father also had lots of success and fame.

“Being an Andretti means a lot,” Marco said, “but if I had to choose one word I think it’d be passion. We all just love driving race cars.”

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Although Marco has an estimated value of $20 million thanks in part to his family’s successes, he has taken a liking to investment properties such as apartment buildings and is “trying to be smart for retirement.”

Another skill Andretti is trying to add to his arsenal is cooking after recently buying a smoker.

“Obviously with the pandemic we stay home a lot and it’s my new hobby,” Andretti said. “I never used to cook, but I’ve started taking a liking to it.”

His latest project is ribs, which he has found takes at least five hours to prepare.

“Patience is the key,” Andretti said. “You get into the evening and people get hungry, but you have to make them wait if you want it to be good.”

Drivers will need to be patient at Newton with back-to-back races, something that will force teams to play it a bit safe.

“Especially with a double like we have at Iowa,” Andretti said. “If you end up in a big crash on day one, you might not even make the field for race two. It’s all about keeping it clean for sure.”

Fans attending the pair of IndyCar races — with an ARCO Hobby Stock feature wedged between — will be asked to add extra time for parking and entrance to the facility with additional safety measures in place for everyone’s well-being.

“We’re nothing without the fans, let’s start there,” Andretti said. “We are paid as entertainers and it’s been tough through COVID-19, but we’re happy that the tracks have been able to keep us racing and I think it’s important for fans to have sport right now. It’s something to look forward to and something to put smiles on people’s faces.

“Iowa is able to get 5,000 in a safe way with measures in place and as long as we’re smart about it, it’s definitely a good start to normality.”

Comments: justin.webster@thegazette.com

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