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Monday, May 23, 2011
Marco Andretti aims to break family drought at Indy

By Master Tesfatsion

FORT WORTH, Texas -- If your last name is Andretti, the Indianapolis 500 hasn’t been your best friend the past three decades.

Three generations of drivers have placed that historic name in nearly every single category of the IndyCar record book, but only patriarch Mario chugged a jar of milk produced by the American Dairy Association of Indiana after “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in 1969.

Since that moment, it has been a number of heartbreaking defeats. Even Marco, the youngest of the family drivers, suffered a fair share of the Andretti Curse during his first Indy 500 in 2006. Sam Hornish Jr. passed Marco on the final lap to win by .0635 seconds. Michael, Mario's son and Marco's father, was right behind in third place.

“We have to look at how fortunate we are,” Marco said Monday during a media luncheon at Texas Motor Speedway. “Number one, to be able to go compete and do what we love to do. We’re safe. We’ve been safe in our careers. But yeah man, I’m sick of the plane rides home just talking about how we could’ve won it.”

Marco qualified in 28th place for the 100th anniversary of the Indy 500 on the final run during Bump Day on Sunday, knocking out fellow Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay in the process. Despite noticeable speed struggles, Michael, now owner of Andretti Autosport, likes Marco's chances this Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I really think once the race rolls around, [speed] doesn’t matter and it comes down to handling,” Michael said Sunday after Bump Day. “That’s why I feel confident with the cars we have in the field [teammate Danica Patrick qualified 17th]. I think Marco is going to be the guy to beat, I really do.”

The Indianapolis 500 is the first of four straight oval-track events on the 2011 IndyCar series schedule. On deck: The Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11.