Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti and his son Marco Andretti, the driver of the No. 26 Team Venom car for Andretti Autosport, meet the media ahead of this weekend's IZOD IndyCar race in Kentucky.
Q: Michael, first news broke last week about your team's decision to run with Chevrolet power in 2012. How much are you looking forward to reuniting with Chevy, which you had a very successful partnership with at Newman/Haas in the 1990s?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Actually very excited about it. We looked at all manufacturers and really did our due diligence, and we feel that Chevrolet gives us the best chance at winning, and the way they're going about it and what they're doing, I mean, they're very serious about it, and that's what we like. They're coming in for one reason, and that is to win, and that's what we want to do.
On the other side, it was mixed feelings because we've been with Honda for so long. They've been so great. They've been such a great supporter of open‑wheel racing in the U.S., and I'm so happy that they're continuing their support, obviously. But it's going to be weird not having Honda engines behind us for sure.
But again, we're excited about it. As you said, with Chevrolet we've had great success – I've had great success in my career as a driver with them. It's where I won my championship [in 1991 -Ed.], and I won a lot of races in just three years with them, and so we do have a winning combination between the two of us, and hopefully we can continue that as an owner now.
Q: You mentioned the success that you had as a driver. I know there's two races left in the 2011 season here, and it's been a successful season for Andretti Autosport, Marco being one of the three drivers on your team who has won a race this season. As a team owner, you have to be looking forward to maybe trying to send off your partnership with Honda with some success at Kentucky and Vegas.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: No question about it. We're actually very excited for the next two races. Our goal is to win the next two and leave Honda on a winning note. And I think we have a really good legitimate shot at doing it with one of our four cars.
Q: Marco, with, the race at Kentucky this week, and the season finale at Vegas, you've run really well on one‑and‑a‑half‑mile ovals. You haven't had one yet this year so you have to be looking forward to getting back to one of the one‑and‑a‑half miles?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, well I've yet to win on a mile and a half. But we've run strong, I think that's what really keeps us in it. We just came off a pretty good test at Kentucky. Yeah, basically we're in the mindset that Dad just said, and that's win right now.
I think the oval championship is still open for me if we can get in with a win, so that's definitely the plan. I think it's definitely possible.
Q: You mentioned you had a pretty good test at Kentucky. Has the track changed a lot since the last time we were there last August?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Not really, not as much as the tires did. But I think it's the same for everybody. The tires are lacking a little bit of grip, so we just have to adjust. Other than that, it's the same mile and a half. But obviously the competition has changed, as well. It's as competitive as it's ever been. Basically, we just have to do better than them.
Q: Looking ahead to the event following Kentucky, which is Las Vegas, it'll be your 100th IndyCar start. Do you feel like a guy who's about to hit a milestone start in IndyCar racing?
MARCO ANDRETTI: No, especially with only two wins. I'm definitely a little disappointed. I was wishing I would have more to show for it. But it's making me work harder than ever. I've been having fun, so obviously time has been flying.
Q. Michael, looking toward the Vegas race, you spent nearly all your life in the IndyCar Series. Can you put into perspective how fans and media have reacted to Danica Patrick and how she has progressed while being part of your team?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Well, I think Danica, with what she's achieved for being a woman and first one to win a race and lead laps at Indy, she's brought different, new interest to our sport, for sure. I think that's been a positive for us, no question about it.
But, I wish her luck in what she's going to be doing. I think she has a new challenge for herself, and she's going to try and go do it in a different type of car. It'll be interesting to see how she does. Is our series going to die without Danica? Absolutely not. I think Danica did bring new fans to our sport, and hopefully those fans aren't here only because of Danica. I'm sure she brought fans that normally wouldn't have watched, but now have become fans of IndyCar racing. So as she leaves, I think there are still going to be people who are going to watch our sport because it is the best – I think the best auto racing series in the world.
I mean, it's so exciting. Every race is exciting. So I feel that it's not going to be as big of a deal as everybody thinks.