Michael is the senior Andretti in auto racing now, and it’s a strange feeling.
For the first time in his IndyCar career, the 32-year-old driver is not competing against his father, Mario, who retired. A year after Michael Andretti returned to IndyCars following a brief, unsuccessful fling in Formula One, he took his father’s place this season with Newman-Haas Racing.
“It’s strange, Dad not being here, but we’re all going to have to get used to it,” Michael said.
The other racing Andrettis - brother Jeff and cousin John - are younger than Michael.
Michael started from the pole three times in the first five races this season, but his best finish was second at Phoenix. Like everyone else so far during practice for the May 28 Indianapolis 500, he has watched the Menards of Arie Luyendyk and Scott Brayton outrun the field.
Brayton was the fastest on Tuesday at 231.410 mph, beating Luyendyk’s top lap of 231.113. Andretti’s best lap Tuesday was 228.595.
“It’s been a frustrating year, but I’m hoping maybe that frustration will pay off this month. Things seem to happen for a reason, and maybe the guy upstairs is saving it all for this one,” Andretti said.
Speed is matter of perspective
One of the biggest changes from a rookie to a veteran in the Indianapolis 500 is the acceptance of the blinding speeds without a second thought, according to Mauricio Gugelmin.
“The first time, you’re basically scared. I mean, it’s just ridiculous, the speed that you do,” the second-year driver said.
“But the better the car gets … I mean, today I did a whole lap flat out, just completely not lifting at all, and it feels kind of slow because the car’s not doing anything.
“So it’s always like this. When you’re doing 215s and almost killing yourself, it feels a lot faster than now. So it’s just a strange feeling.”
Gugelmin was 11th as a rookie last year. His best speed in practice this week is 229.481 mph.
Steady Al Unser Jr.
Al Unser Jr. is nothing if not consistent in his two Indianapolis 500 victories.
Both times, second place went to a Canadian driver (Scott Goodyear in 1992, Jacques Villeneuve in 1994); both times, the first driver out of the race was Roberto Guerrero, in crashes.
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