MARCO ANDRETTI WINS AT ST. PETERSBURG IN FIRST PRO SERIES START ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 3, 2005) Marco Andretti, the 18-year old son of Michael Andretti and grandson of Mario Andretti, became the youngest race winner in the ...
MARCO ANDRETTI WINS AT ST. PETERSBURG IN FIRST PRO SERIES START
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 3, 2005) Marco Andretti, the 18-year old son of Michael Andretti and grandson of Mario Andretti, became the youngest race winner in the 10-year history of the Indy Racing League by capturing the checkers in Sunday's running of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Andretti, a high school senior who also became just the fourth driver to win in his Pro Series debut, had the #26 Andretti Green Racing Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone out front for 22 of the 40 laps. He started tfrom the pole and led the first 12 laps before losing the lead to Wade Cunningham in the 10 h of 14 turns on the 1.8-mile circuit. Andretti stalked Cunningham throughout the next 16 laps before setting up for the winning pass in Turn 3 on lap 31. Andretti waited until he and Cunningham approached a lapped car and then slipped past on the inside of the right-hand corner.
From there, Andretti stretched his lead to over two seconds before winning by 1.4181 seconds over Cunningham and Nick Bussell. Al Unser, also an 18-year old, third generation driver, and Arie Luyendyk Jr. finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
The win was especially gratifying for the entire Andretti family after suffering a personal loss yesterday. William Riehl, an 18-year old close friend of the family from Melbourne, Fla., was killed in an auto accident Saturday news which reached the family just after the youngest Andretti claimed the pole for Sunday's event.
"I don't think there is a way to describe the way this feels. I think it was the best thing that I could have done for Will (Riehl) and for everything that happened this weekend. We even lost the last session, so we kind of took a gamble. But, (race engineer) Tony (Cicale) really found it. There is no question this is the biggest race I've ever won because it is the biggest race I've ever competed in."
"I'm just so proud of him and proud of the job he has done all weekend. He drove like a veteran. He was just so smart. He put pressure on when he needed to put pressure on and backed off when he needed to back off. With all the pressure and eyes that was on him and with Will dying yesterday, this was impressive. He drove like an old guy out there today."