Q. What was it at Long Beach? Where were you? What kind of a qualifying lap were you penalized from? Where were you in the lineup if you didn't have the penalty?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, I advanced to the next group. I had two laps that were blocked by [E.J.] Viso, which one of those laps that ended up advancing me. Unfortunately, I edged Hunter-Reay out on my third lap. The fourth lap was obviously the one I got penalized on. We still would have advanced without getting a clear lap. I had high hopes. The car was really good.
When we got bumped in after the [Scott] Dixon thing, I was really pumped. I had a bit of understeer, but the car was close. We were going to make that adjustment that was hopefully going to fix the balance even better. think it definitely would have been in the top four, but it's easier said than done.
Q. What did that do to your confidence for the weekend?
MARCO ANDRETTI: It was definitely frustrating because the whole queue was backing up. Just kind of singled me out. And [J.R.] Hildebrand wasn't even on a quick lap. Should have looked at that. I didn't really impede his progress.
I guess the 'new me' is, what happens happened. I'm not going to get that lap back. This is what I got, I'm going to try to make the best of it. I think that's what we did. We finished as far as up as I thought we were going to make it in that shortened race. We had to do it not by strategy, but just by driving by the field. They shortened the race by five laps.
Having said that, we did a three-stopper because I saw there was going to be a full-course yellow, quick ducked in and got new reds on early in the race. But I drove most of the race with an injured front wing. We were trying to salvage what we can. It's days like that, if we were able to win a championship, it's days like that that are going to do it for us.
Q. Why are you excited of finishes of 3, 7, 7 for the first three races?
MARCO ANDRETTI: I don't look at just the finishes, I look at our competitiveness in general. I've been working on consistency in the offseason, and I'm pleased so far. We have that. But I need to be consistently better.
I think if we keep driving the way we've been, the wins are going to come. So it's hard not to get excited about that because I just know it.
Basically, like I said earlier, it's better than looking in on the top 12, which is where we were last year, we were a couple 10ths off. A couple 10ths in this series is huge. This year we're just a couple hundredths off, so we just need to find that.
Q. Do you have more excitement for Indy, more so than normal, given the competitiveness of the start of the season? It's apples and oranges, I understand. But the team looks so good.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, definitely. Indy, I've always looked at it as a championship in itself. It always helps to be competitive in the overall picture. First and foremost, I hope to really bring home a great result this weekend. Depending on where everybody else finishes, we're a podium away from leading the points is the way I look at it. If we're able to do that, it would carry huge momentum into Indy.
So instead of looking at it as a championship in itself, I look at it as, you know, this could be a huge year for us if things shake out right. Yeah, I mean, this is a very confidence-driven sport. Right now I think we're all right.
Q. Marco, I think I've heard you mention that you'd like to eventually be that guy that guys come to for race data and advice for the weekend. With you being the high-ranked Andretti driver, has that been happening more?
MARCO ANDRETTI: It has. And I told my teammates this in the offseason, that I'm going to contribute more, period, this year for the team. I didn't want them just coming in my trailer on road courses and ovals. I wanted it to be across the board.
So far, yeah, I got to say it's been a great joint effort. Before, they wouldn't even be looking at me, and now they're having to compare stuff against me, which is a good feeling.
Q. You talked a little bit about starting out with good results. Do you believe in momentum? What effect do these good results have on you and your team?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, I think, like I said earlier, it's a very confidence-driven sport. Yeah, I believe in momentum. Sometimes the momentum shifts and you don't know why, you don't know what you're doing different.
It's really great to know I'm doing something different and getting positive results. It's just driving to the limit of the car instead of asking for something that's not there and actually creating a lot more problems for myself.
A typical weekend for me is practice one, we're always somewhere in the top five or ten. Then every practice leading up to qualifying, I go backwards, backwards, as I'm driving harder and harder.
Now I'm listening to the car, the tire, what it's going to give me, doing my job better.
Q. Marco, you talk about the finer points of racing and how you worked on them and stuff. When you step back and look at yourself, if you can do that, how are we seeing a different Marco Andretti this year that may account for this success that you've had so far? How would you analyze yourself?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, on the street courses I've just been driving better in general. But as far as attitude and outlook-wise, I think you really have to look at Long Beach. The old me might have gotten really frustrated and ended up not with a decent result, basically taking my head out of it before I was out of it.
Instead, I'm like, 'OK, we got what we got, let's try to get the most from it.' Basically just turned the negatives into as positive as much as we can. Like I said, when you look back at guys that have won the championships, yeah, obviously the wins are a big key, but it's days what could have been 15th-, 16th-place finishes well into the top 10. Those are the days that are going to pay the bills in the long run.
Basically I've just learned to be a good fighter.
Q. No conversation with Andretti or at any event goes by without talking about your grandfather, Mario. I was going to ask you about your father, Michael. People sometimes forget he's the third all-time winning IndyCar driver. When he's around, he doesn't create that buzz that your grandfather does. Talk about your father as you know him as a driver, what you learned from him, what his influence was on you.
MARCO ANDRETTI: I think the big thing when I look at Dad is that he really just let his results do the talking. You never heard from his mouth how good he was. I think that's a pretty cool thing. I idolize him for that.
You have to have other people telling you how good you are, not you. You know what I mean? I'm not saying that Mario does that. He has his own buzz because of what he's done. But I think Dad was on the super-modest side, all business. Sometimes it worked against him, as it does with me with fans, just being super-focused, that can be easily misinterpreted as not a good guy or whatever.
Q. You will be racing in Pennsylvania this year not long after the Indy 500. Sort of a dumb question, but how great would it be to win the Indy 500 and come home?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, it would be great. You're talking about Pocono. If we're able to win Indy and Pocono, then we're in it for the Triple Crown, which would be spectacular.
I think I'm going to have a huge hometown fan base, which will feel very good. We had a very good test there, as well. It's a pretty daunting track at first. If you get it right, it could be very fun.
Q. At this point in your career, which do you covet more, individual race wins or getting a championship?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, I think you get more known for a championship. When you crown an overall champion, it shows your diversity, because I think that's the beauty of IndyCar and IndyCar racing. When you crown a champion, it's somebody who has mastered all the circuits of the sport.
Having said that, it's pretty awesome for Dad to just sit there and look at how many total wins he has, as well. You'd like to think, if you look at trying to get outright wins, that the championships will come. I think that's not a bad outlook.