Andretti senior suprised by son Marco’s qualifying dominance

Michael Andretti (left) and son Marco Andretti

Andretti Autosport team owner Michael Andretti says he was “shocked” by his son Marco’s dominant performance in qualifying for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500.

The Andretti squad filled the top four spots in Saturday qualifying, with Honda-powered entries occupying eight of the top nine spots ahead of Sunday’s fight for pole.

Andretti posted a four-lap average of 231.351 mph (372.323 km/h) to top the timesheets ahead of team-mates Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi, and James Hinchcliffe.

Series leader Scott Dixon finished qualifying in fifth position, despite recording the fastest lap of the day (232.356 mph, 373.940 km/h) in an aborted qualifying run at the death.

Andretti’s Friday pace raised eyebrows as he set the fastest pre-race practice time since 1996. Despite drawing 28th for Saturday’s qualifying runs, the veteran managed to retain his spot atop the standings.

His father and team owner beamed after the session, saying: “He blew me away.

“That first lap was amazing. We were all shocked by it. Last two laps he was pedalling the heck out of it. He did a great job.”

Having four of his cars filling the top four spots proved deeply satisfying for Andretti senior, who as a driver failed to win the Indianapolis 500 in 16 starts.

Marco Andretti, making his 15th start, is yet to taste victory too, with the famed Andretti family enjoying just one win in the event, in 1969 for Mario Andretti.

Marco Andretti’s best result to date remains his Indianapolis 500 debut in 2006 when he was pipped by Sam Hornish at the chequered flag.

“One of the challenges is trying to make all our cars equal,” Michael Andretti said.

“They’re as close together as they’ve ever been. Until yesterday, I didn’t know where we were going to be.

“Then I thought we have a legit shot of putting six cars in the top nine.”

Speaking after Saturday’s running, Marco Andretti, who hasn’t had a win in the series since 2011, was pleased to carry over his Friday pace but remained coy ahead of Sunday’s fight for pole.

“This race is like a championship in itself. We’ve run well here, excluding last year basically,” the 33-year-old said.

“Yeah, I mean, does [not winning since 2011] weigh on me? Absolutely. I’m a competitor. I don’t like not being victorious.

“That’s not what I wake up in the morning and think about. Tomorrow I’m going to try to get the pole at the Indy 500.”

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