One day after the announcement for Ryan Hunter-Reay returning to Andretti Autosport was made, the team announced a surprising bit of news. Marco Andretti has decided to step away from full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar series. The 2020 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter still intends to race in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing this May, but is set to re-evaluate his racing career. Marco said that he will be at Sebring next week to help the team with testing and that he may do some other IndyCar races this season, but his time as a full-season competitor has come to an end.
Here is the full statement from Marco Andretti:
“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. I recently shared this decision and the changes that I want to make with my Dad 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. 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 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.”
Marco’s decision, while surprising, is quite understandable. The Andretti family has gone through a rough patch lately with the loss of John Andretti last year and losing Aldo Andretti less than three weeks ago.
Michael Andretti stated that the team was working on a full-season deal for his son, but he opted to go in another direction. It has not been made clear what the plan is for the team at this point, in terms of if they will run the car full-time or on a limited basis. Marco will remain as a part-owner of the No. 98 entry with his father and Bryan Herta. James Hinchcliffe is still expected to drive for the team in some capacity this season. The team currently has three drivers locked in for this season – (No. 26) Colton Herta, (No. 27) Alexander Rossi, and (No. 28) Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Here is Michael’s full statement:
“Marco and I have discussed this at length. I both support and respect his decision to take a focus on other areas of life, and maybe even other forms of motorsport. We were working on a full-season INDYCAR entry for him, but he decided he wanted to take a different direction and I respect him for making that decision.
“I think for any multi-generational athlete, it can be really challenging to find your own ground and make your own name on top of your family’s. Marco has always had the courage to chart his own path and I’m proud of the career he’s built for himself and the person he’s become. I know this decision wasn’t easy.
“But, like he has said, this is not retirement. He has some great accomplishments behind him and I think he still has many more ahead of him. He’s offered to help us out with some testing, I’m looking forward to having him back with us for the 500, and hopefully maybe a few more races through the season.”
Marco should have quite a few options to pursue, should he chose to do so. Whether it be other options in the IndyCar paddock or jumping into the IMSA series, he could still have a busy 2021 calendar. He noted that he would welcome the idea of doing some sportscar racing with his cousin Jarett. Other marquee events such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Le Mans are some of the items on Marco’s wish list.
Marco has 248 IndyCar starts under his belt, with two wins to his credit. He has earned 20 podium finishes and six poles, including last year’s Indianapolis 500 that was run in August.