ANDRETTI CLAIMS FIRST CAREER VICTORY ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Sunday, April 3, 2005 -- Marco Andretti captured his first career IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series victory, winning his first start, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St.
ANDRETTI CLAIMS FIRST CAREER VICTORY
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Sunday, April 3, 2005 -- Marco Andretti captured his first career IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series victory, winning his first start, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Andretti, the 18-year old son of Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti, took advantage of lap traffic to slip past Wade Cunningham on Lap 30 of the 40-lap event. He became the youngest winner of an IRL event at 18 years, 21 days.
MENARDS INFINITI PRO SERIES GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG QUOTES
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Every race I go into, I don't expect to win, but I know I have a chance, so going into the race and, after I made the mistake, I knew I wasn't done. I just felt I was going to come back. No more mistakes. That was the mistake for the race, and now put your head down, and we got lucky with lapped traffic." (About other opportunities to pass) "Sometimes you just flinch just to get in his mirrors. Sometimes I wasn't close enough, but I'd still be pulling out. Going into the last corner, I think that's where I could have had a chance if I wouldn't have gotten him in lapped traffic." (About the Pro Series cars): "I love it. They suit my driving style fantastic. Hopefully we can be back for more." (About staying focused despite the loss of a friend this weekend): "I think once I get the helmet on, it helps me get away from it. I did what he would want me to do. This is for him." (Do you think you are ready for IndyCar Series cars?): "My grandfather thinks I can drive one right now, maybe at Sebring. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right. I want to know I can go in there knowing I can win."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Co-owner, Andretti Green Racing and Marco Andretti's father): "I think next year (Marco) is going to be in (a Pro Series) car for a course of races, probably the way he is going. We'll have to see how it all works out, but that's what I'd like to see. (About Marco's focus despite the loss of a friend this weekend): "The way he did his qualifying lap blew me away. He didn't put a wheel wrong, and he did his quickest lap of the weekend with one lap and cold tires. I was impressed, and then to find out about his friend Will and back it up with a race like today. I'm impressed."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 33 Visit New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I was trying to slow down the race and conserve my brakes, I knew I had a problem and Marty Roth got in the way at the wrong time. I ran into a little brake trouble, and I couldn't do any heavy braking, so when (Marco Andretti) got the lead, there was no way I could stay with him though the heavy braking zones to make a pass." (About Andretti's pass for the lead): "When Marco passed me, I caught (Marty) Roth right in the middle of (Turn) 3. It's a flat out 120 mph turn right between third and fourth gear. Marty Roth brake checked and I had nowhere to go. I had to stop and Marco got a good run. We were side-by-side going into the next corner, but there was no way I could out-brake him, so I gave it to him. It's a long championship. I'm sitting pretty good now. I'm pretty disappointed, but I was looking at the long picture at the time."
NICK BUSSELL (No. 21 JL West Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was a pretty uneventful race for the most part, but I was driving as hard as I could. I thought I was going to have a chance, but the tire went away. The facility and the venue are awesome. I believe we're back here year after year. The course is a lot of fun. It's a great city with a lot of good fans."
AL UNSER (No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I think we could have done a little bit better. We ended up fourth, I think I could have gotten to the podium. We did some of our best laps at the end, and I thank Firestone for that. I think my fastest lap was the last lap. Congratulations to Marco (Andretti). Let's stay on these (street courses) for a while. I want to go back to ovals, but I want to do another road course first. I'm having a lot of fun."
JON HERB (No. 6 AERCON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "This was my first time on a road course in about six years, so I was just looking to find a good line around this place and start to feel comfortable, which we did to a point on Friday. We were running some good lap times. Really, I was hoping to finish the race in one piece and possibly get a top-five finish. That would have been a really good weekend, but we had some mechanical issues with my brakes both Friday and Saturday which caused me to crash both days, and that simply put us behind the whole weekend. I probably only had about 20 laps total of green flag practice. The brake bias was not right during the race, and that, combined with a few mistakes, put me out of the race. But I gained a lot of good experience heading into the oval and road course races in Indianapolis, so we'll just look ahead to those races and learn from our mistakes."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I got held up at the beginning of the race, but I ended up going almost three seconds quicker than my qualifying time, so we really picked up a huge amount of time on the track today. I made a couple of mistakes, but it was my first road course race in a long time, so I was very pleased.