A number of drivers will be making their American Le Mans Series debut next week in the Twelve Hours of Sebring. But one name sticks out from the rest. His grandfather is a Sebring legend -- winning three times. His father, uncle and cousin have...
A number of drivers will be making their American Le Mans Series debut next week in the Twelve Hours of Sebring. But one name sticks out from the rest. His grandfather is a Sebring legend -- winning three times. His father, uncle and cousin have also made their mark on the famous Florida airfield circuit. Now, third-generation racer Marco Andretti makes his sports car debut, carrying on his family's legacy at Sebring.
Andretti will be at the wheel of Andretti Green Racing's (AGR) Acura ARX-01b, the team co-owned by his father, Michael. The 20-year-old IndyCar Series star will be joined by full-season drivers Bryan Herta and Chirstian Fittipaldi in the LM P2 contender.
"I'm really looking forward to getting into the XM Satellite Radio Acura," Andretti said. "I've had a chance to drive the car in a couple of tests and I've been very happy with it. The car has been really quick, fun to drive and has been incredibly durable."
Last year at Sebring, Andretti Green Racing took an impressive class win, placing second overall in their debut race. The driving trio of Herta, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan outlasted the armada of Porsche RS Spyders to give Acura it's first and only win to date in the series. With a revised lineup for 2008, together with chassis and engine developments, the team aims to make it two-for-two in the Twelve Hours.
"What Bryan was able to do last year, in Acura's very first start, was amazing," Andretti said. "I think I'll be able to contribute and, hopefully, run up front. My grandfather has won three times at Sebring and I hope to add my name to that list."
AGR went on to score three more podium finishes after Sebring, also claiming the overall pole position at Long Beach. However, the No. 26 car struggled to be a consistent challenger up front, placing fifth in the teams' championship.
The 2008 season marks a new start for the team, hoping to build the much-needed consistency. Last year, Herta had no less than four co-drivers last year. But he and Fittipaldi will pair together for the full 11-race season.
Entering his third season in IndyCar, Marco has already racked up quite a resume in open-wheel racing. The 2006 rookie of the year became the youngest driver in history to win a major open-wheel race (Infineon). Andretti that year was also remembered for his breathtakingly close second-place finish in the Indianapolis 500. He now hopes to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Mario, by becoming a Sebring winner.
"This is a great opportunity for Marco, but also gives us a great lineup for the 12 Hours of Sebring," Michael Andretti said. "We really feel like we've got three very fast drivers that are smart enough to have the XM car around at the end, and that is obviously very critical in a race like this. Marco has tested well and has proven he's up to the challenge."
Former Formula One World Champion Mario Andretti has six starts at Sebring, taking wins in 1967, 1970 and 1972. Marco's father, Michael, as well as uncle Jeff and cousin John also have also clocked laps on the historic circuit.