By LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — Marco Andretti left the Indianapolis 500 frustrated, wishing he could quickly race again to redeem himself after a broken wing led to an eighth-place finish.
This weekend, he will get two chances to bounce back at the Detroit Grand Prix.
“It’s another big points weekend,” Andretti said Thursday, standing in shade under a tree on a sunny day on Belle Isle, where IndyCar will have races Saturday and Sunday. “Within a month, there is so many points up for grabs — almost half the season it feels like. Hopefully, we can capitalize here and get back in the top 10 in points. I’ve had engine-related issues four races so far. I’ve been taken out of the points race, unfortunately.”
Andretti is No. 14 in IndyCar points, slipping in the standings with just two top-five finishes and two in the top 10 out of six starts.
The third-generation driver knows all too well he has to choose his words carefully. He grew up in the sport in a family that casts a huge shadow because of his grandfather, Mario, and father, Michael. While there are many things out of his control on a track, he knows it isn’t wise to lash out at his team when something goes wrong with his car.
“There’s no right thing for me to say,” the 30-year-old Andretti acknowledged. “I’m either complaining or just taking it on the chin and trying to work harder. So, I’ll just take it on the chin and work harder.”
Takuma Sato, meanwhile, gave Andretti Autosport its second straight win at the Indy 500 and the third in four years. Sato and four other drivers in Honda-power cars finished among the first seven and in front of Andretti. And days later, he is still puzzled he wasn’t as successful as others on his team or with a Honda engine at open-wheel racing’s signature event.
“I don’t have an answer for that yet,” he said softly. “I wish we knew. I’m not sure what happened.”
Since being the IndyCar and Indy 500 rookie of the year in 2006 with one victory, a lot of people aren’t sure what has happened to Andretti. He has won only one other IndyCar race, back in 2011, and failed to finish in the top five in any of his 16 starts last season.
Tony Kanaan has seen up close, and from afar, how much pressure is on Andretti since he was a 14-year-old kid hanging out around the track.
“He has to carry a big name on the back of his shoulders,” Kanaan said. “He’s one of the great drivers we have, but if you’re going to keep comparing him to his dad and his grandfather, those are tough shoes to fill. I think he has learned how to take that pressure off himself and to just be Marco.”
Andretti shrugs his shoulders when asked what it’s like to have his last name, and to hear the whispers and questions about his famous family.
“I don’t know what it’s like otherwise,” he said. “The more unique part is driving for my dad. Sometimes it can be tricky. Most of the time, we make it work.”
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