IRL: Andretti dad, son team up for 2006 Indy 500

Not since 1994 has the Indianapolis 500 field had an Andretti father/son on the starting grid. That was the final year that 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti raced at the famed brickyard: he started ninth on the 33-car grid, four positions behind his son Michael.

Joining the father/son combo and adding a third Andretti to the field was Michael's cousin John Andretti. Both Michael and John finished in the top ten in 1994, with Michael's sixth place the family's best finish of the day.

Mario, Marco and Michael Andretti.
Photo by Shawn Payne - IRL.
The triple Andretti assault of 1994 was fielded by three different teams. Twelve years later, Michael and Marco Andretti will be entered by Andretti Green Racing, a team co-owned by Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree.

"This announcement is an early Christmas present for fans of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing," said Joie Chitwood, president and chief operating officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Three generations of Andrettis were at the Andretti Green Racing shop today when the announcement was made that Michael and Marco Andretti will attempt to qualify for the 2006 Indianapolis 500 to become the fourth father/son combination to compete against each another at the famed Speedway.

"I'm really looking forward to returning to Indy in the Jim Beam/Vonage car as one of the drivers on this team, and I'm excited about the chance I'll have to run with Marco," Michael Andretti said.

Michael, who won the Indy 500 as a team owner in 2005 with Dan Wheldon, will come out of retirement to seek the one race win that has eluded him as a driver since he first competed in the Indy 500 in 1984.

Initially lured out of retirement by the opportunity to compete against his son, Michael is now focused on winning the race. While Marco will have help from his three Andretti Green racing teammates throughout the 2006 season, his father's involvement will provide invaluable advice and motivation.

Michael is looking forward to not only his own return to Indy as a racer but to his son's debut: "I think I'll have as good a shot as I've ever had to win the Indianapolis 500, and I think I can also be a big help to Marco as he gets ready to make his first '500' start."

Marco, who will be 19 when he starts rookie orientation for the 2006 Indianapolis 500, made his Speedway debut in the Freedom 100 Menard Infiniti Pro Series race this year. The talented third-generation racer ended up in an incident when he ran out of track due to a competitor's spin in the closing laps. Indy does bite and not just the rookie drivers -- Marco's father and grandfather could attest to that fact.

Between Mario and his two sons Michael and Jeff and their cousin John, the Andretti family has made 53 starts in the Indianapolis 500 resulting in one victory for Mario, in 1969. Michael Andretti's first taste of victory lane milk came as a team co-owner when Dan Wheldon earned a hard-fought victory at the 2005 Indianapolis 500.

"The Andretti name is synonymous with auto racing, so it's only fitting that an Andretti, make that two Andrettis, will be entered in the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500," commented Chitwood.

More on Marco Andretti can be viewed at: Andretti Green Racing adds Marco Andretti for 2006