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Marco Andretti Ready For 500 Mile IndyCar Test At Pocono

Marco Andretti looks down pit lane from his No. 27 UFD Honda prior to practice for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. [Photo by: Chris Owens]

Marco Andretti looks down pit lane from his No. 27 UFD Honda prior to practice for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. [Photo by: Chris Owens]

by Allan Brewer

Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti has few memories from his childhood of the racetrack at Long Pond, PA where this weekend’s ABC Supply IndyCar 500 race will be contested. “Quite frankly, IndyCar raced here many times way before I was born,” he said. “The series returned in 2013 and the first time I remember being here I was on pole!”

With its proximity to the Andretti clan’s Nazareth, PA homestead Marco figures to have a clatch of adoring fans in the stands here at Pocono Raceway on Sunday. Now with a full decade of racing at the wheel of an IndyCar, and 183 starts in the series, Andretti knows he has to deliver on expectations this weekend. “This race is very important to me,” he said. “It’s right up there with Indianapolis and Long Beach.”

After posting the fourth-fastest time with the United Fiber and Data machine in practice on the 2.5 mile tri-oval here in the Pocono Mountains, Andretti revealed he is driving the chassis used by Formula 1 champion Alonso Fernando in this year’s Indianapolis 500. “We have in our team and term called ‘slow car syndrome.’ I think maybe the other car was suffering from that, so the team was generous enough to put me into Alonso’s car and I found some speed right away.”

The speedway set-up at Pocono should play right into Andretti’s hands. Honda-powered race cars have been exceptionally well-placed in the standings this year over these magnificently fast courses. “Yes, for sure,” Marco admitted. “Honda has been very fast, and it looks like the speedway package favors the engine and aero package.”
Having said that, Andretti likes the challenge and enjoys employing the skills of a seasoned professional at speed. “I really like it best when the engineers don’t make the car too comfortable, where you just go flat out all the way around. I like it best when the car is in my hands.”

Speeds at Pocono this year have been relatively subdued in the high 219 mph to 220 mph range compared to the track record of 223.920 mph set in 2014. The consensus remains that pole position is relatively unimportant in a 500 mile race like Pocono. “How you roll off the truck is important, and I have held pole here in the past, but you can be sure I will be going for the win this weekend.”

Andretti summed up his own personal feelings and those of the Andretti Autosport team by concluding that “It would be nice to get the pole but the race is 500 miles. We have the pace for that and want to execute and come away from here with a big win.”

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Allan Brewer
Allan Brewer covers IndyCar and other racing series for RacingNation.com. Allan is a fixture at the race track, armed with keyboard and camera, eager to take you inside open-wheel sport where the news is being made. He comes to RacingNation.com with multiple professional awards from the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AWWRBA). He began his motorsports writing career at FastMachines.com; and solely published IndyProRacer.com and A1GP.com, two award-winning websites for open-wheel racing's junior leagues, prior to becoming IndyCar correspondent at Motorsport.com. He has also covered Formula 1, NASCAR, Formula E, the Indy Lights Series and its predecessor Indy Pro Series, NHRA events and major auto shows. His major interest outside of competition is automotive technology and its application to the cars we drive every day on the public highways.