LONG BEACH, California – Another Andretti is set to compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Jarett Andretti, the son of former Indy car, stock car and drag racer John Andretti, was named Friday by Andretti Autosport to race at the Freedom 100, the crown jewel for the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires support series. The event on the famed 2.5-mile IMS oval takes place on Friday, May 24, two days before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Jarett Andretti already drives sports cars for Andretti Autosport in the Pirelli GT4 America Series as well as U.S. Auto Club sprint cars, but this will be his first time racing in Indy Lights.
“I’m really excited about this,” said team owner Michael Andretti, who is Jarett’s first cousin once removed and his godfather. Michael’s father Mario, the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner, is the twin brother of Aldo Andretti, Jarett’s grandfather.
“We’ve been talking about this for quite some time,” Michael added, “especially with John, and he’s always had a dream to see his son drive at Indy and I’m glad that we’re making it a reality this year.”
Jarett will become the seventh Andretti to compete in a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mario, Michael, John and Mario’s son Jeff all drove in the Indianapolis 500. Michael’s son Marco has driven in both the Indy 500 on the oval and the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course. Adam Andretti, Aldo’s son and John’s brother, competed in a Trans Am race on the road course.
Technically, there have been eight Andrettis to drive a race car at IMS, since Aldo tested for car owner Jim Robbins on the oval, but never raced at the track. Aldo’s racing career ended in 1969 after he sustained serious injuries in a sprint car crash.
Jarett, 26, is the youngest Andretti racing now. He’s been competing in USAC since 2013 and expanded full time into sports cars last year. But, like others in the family, he’s always dreamed of racing at the Brickyard.
“Yeah, I mean, I get to go to the speedway, drive by there all the time, live in Indianapolis, grew up in Indianapolis,” he said. “It means a lot. (It will be) good to get Dad out to the speedway again. He always gets a little pep in his step when he gets to go out there, see everybody, be a part of something. That's going to be exciting.”
John Andretti has been battling colon cancer for two years. On March 30, he announced on Twitter that it had returned, but his son said it hasn’t slowed the 56-year-old and that it’s his dream to see Jarett race at Indy, too.
“He's doing pretty well right now,” Jarett said. “He came sprint car racing with me last weekend, goes to the car washes, up till 3 in the morning. I can't get him to stop. I don't know. I mean, he's doing really well as far as that goes.
“As far as the dream part, we built our sprint car team together hand-in-hand, just us going to the races together sometimes, him working on the car, me driving the car. He lives with me in the summers for four or five months. We had every meal together.”
Jarett will be the fourth team entry in the Indy Lights race at IMS, joining full-season drivers Oliver Askew, Robert Megennis and Ryan Norman. They will test at Kentucky Speedway on April 18, prior to Freedom 100 activities beginning May 20 at IMS.
“That will be good to kind of get acclimated,” Jarett said of the Kentucky test, “get through the bar changes, things like that, just to get comfortable with the cockpit. The sprint car has shock adjustors, but they're only one way, so they're a lot less complicated than on the Indy Lights car. We'll work through that and get comfortable, then go to Indy.”
Askew and Megennis attended the announcement during Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach festivities and are eager for Jarett to join the group for the race.
“I think it’s really cool for the team,” said Askew, the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 champion. “We’re stronger in numbers and I think with a fourth car it’ll provide more data, and I believe Jarett is a talented driver as well.”
“I’m excited for Jarett,” Megennis said. “I think he’s really going to contribute and help. Any more data we can get is going to help. And that’s another car in the field, it’s another driver for us to race, and it’s just going to make it even better and more fun.”
Tickets for all May activities at IMS, including the 103rd Indy 500, INDYCAR Grand Prix and Freedom 100, are available at IMS.com.