IRL: Michael, Marco Andretti to race in 2006 Indy 500

MICHAEL, MARCO ANDRETTI TO DRIVE IN 2006 INDIANAPOLIS 500 Legendary veteran exits retirement to seek elusive win, help son in Indy debut INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005 -- An Andretti will be back in the driver's seat in the...

MICHAEL, MARCO ANDRETTI TO DRIVE IN 2006 INDIANAPOLIS 500

Legendary veteran exits retirement to seek elusive win, help son in Indy debut

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005 -- An Andretti will be back in the driver's seat in the Indianapolis 500 this May. Better yet, make that two Andrettis.

Indy legend Michael Andretti and his son Marco announced Dec. 20 that they will compete in the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28, 2006 as teammates with Andretti Green Racing. Marco Andretti also will drive for AGR in the entire 2006 IndyCar® Series season.

It's the first time an Andretti will be in the field since 2003, when Michael Andretti last drove in a race before focusing entirely on his co-ownership role at AGR. Michael Andretti led twice for 28 laps during that race before a broken throttle linkage ended his day after 94 laps. He placed 27th.

Michael Andretti will drive the Jim Beam/Vonage Dallara/Honda/Firestone at Indy. Marco Andretti will drive the No. 26 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

"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.

"As a driver, he has developed much quicker than I think anybody expected, and that is what really made this possible.

"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."

Said Marco Andretti: "I'm excited about having the opportunity to drive the ArcaEx car for Andretti Green Racing. Over the past couple of years, I've had the opportunity to spend time in the paddock with the ArcaEx team, as well as my three teammates, so that is a plus. I know that I have a lot of work ahead of me and a pretty steep learning curve, but I also know that I have one of the best teams in motorsports working with me."

This will be the first time that two generations of the famed racing family will race together in the Indianapolis 500 since 1994, when 1969 Indy winner Mario Andretti made his 29th and final start in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" with Michael Andretti also in the field.

Michael and Marco Andretti will be the 19th father-son pairing with Indianapolis 500 starts on their resumes but just the fourth such duo to race together at Indy. Al Unser and Al Unser Jr. were the first, in 1983, and Mario and Michael Andretti achieved the feat in 1984. Mario and Jeff Andretti became the third father-son combo in the same race in 1991.

"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. "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.

"Michael is very public about his passion for the '500' and the Speedway. Now, he will be able to share that passion with Marco in a way few others have experienced -- by competing together on the track. It will be fun to watch Mario Andretti in May as his son and grandson build upon the Andretti heritage at the Speedway."

Michael Andretti, 43, has made 14 previous Indianapolis 500 starts, with a best finish of second in 1991. He has four top-five finishes at Indy and has led 426 laps, the most of any driver without an Indy 500 victory. But he entered Victory Lane last May as a co-owner of AGR, which fielded the winning car for Dan Wheldon.

It will be the first time that the defending winning team owner also will race in the Indianapolis 500 since 1999. Eddie Cheever Jr. won the 1998 Indianapolis 500 as an owner-driver and finished 18th in 1999.

Michael Andretti is believed to be the first person to win the Indianapolis 500 as an owner only and then defend that title from the driver's seat the following year.

Marco Andretti, 18, will make his first Indianapolis 500 start but his third career start at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He won the Liberty Challenge Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù race last June on the IMS road course during the United States Grand Prix just four weeks after placing 16th in the Freedom 100 on the oval during the Month of May.

***

Indy 500 tickets on sale: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 Indianapolis 500, the historic 90th running of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

All fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.

Ticket prices start at just $20.

-ims-

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