2020 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole sitter Marco Andretti is shifting to a new phase of his driving career, stepping away from full-time competition in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season while still racing in selected INDYCAR events for Andretti Autosport, including the 105th Running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Andretti, 33, has been a full-time driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES since 2006. He has two career INDYCAR SERIES victories. He also has won six pole positions, including the NTT P1 Award for the Indianapolis 500 last August. It was the first time a member of the Andretti earned the pole for the “500” since his grandfather Mario Andretti in 1987.
"Upon careful thought over the past couple of months, I have made the decision to make some changes to my racing activities and focus for 2021,” Andretti said. “I recently shared this decision and the changes that I want to make with my Dad and have spoken at length with him about it. I appreciate his openness and for allowing me the flexibility to map out my own course going forward.
“I am fortunate to be in a position at Andretti Autosport to run the full INDYCAR season if I want to. But, instead, I have decided to change up my direction somewhat – to reset – to do something a little different - look at everything fresh and see where that takes me. And, to me, now seems like the appropriate time to do that.
“I definitely am going to keep driving. I still have a deep passion for it and have unfinished business to take care of and some boxes that I want to check before I consider retiring as a driver.”
Andretti indicated he was interested in driving in elite sports car races such as the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans and also in racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with his cousin, Jarett Andretti.
But INDYCAR will remain an important part of Andretti’s new path. He will continue to race in the Indianapolis 500 and selected other NTT INDYCAR SERIES events, hoping to stay “car fit.” He also will participate in testing with Andretti Autosport, including in the team’s private test Jan. 19 at Sebring, Florida.
Andretti has been a stalwart in the Indianapolis 500 since his electrifying debut in 2006, when he finished a heartbreaking second and earned Rookie of the Year honors after being passed on the final straightaway by Sam Hornish Jr. Andretti has eight top-10 finishes in 15 “500” starts.
“First and foremost, I remain very hungry to win the Indy 500,” Andretti said. “It is our biggest stage and the place that I feel I bring the most to the table as a driver. I’ve come close there and am in the mix there it seems each year. Winning the pole there last year was awesome, but that isn’t enough - I know that a victory there is in my future, so we’ll try to get that done in the coming years.
“I am excited for what the future holds for me both on and off the track and, again, am grateful to Dad and Andretti Autosport for allowing me the freedom to change things around as I’d like and to proceed forward a little differently this upcoming season.”
Said Andretti’s father and Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti: “Marco and I have discussed this at length. I both support and respect his decision to take a focus on other areas of life, and maybe even other forms of motorsport. We were working on a full-season INDYCAR entry for him, but he decided he wanted to take a different direction, and I respect him for making that decision.
“I think for any multi-generational athlete, it can be really challenging to find your own ground and make your own name on top of your family’s. Marco has always had the courage to chart his own path, and I’m proud of the career he’s built for himself and the person he’s become. I know this decision wasn’t easy.
“But, like he has said, this is not retirement. He has some great accomplishments behind him, and I think he still has many more ahead of him. He’s offered to help us out with some testing, I’m looking forward to having him back with us for the ‘500,’ and hopefully maybe a few more races through the season.”