Long Pond - It's easy to see why Nazareth, PA native Marco Andretti is frustrated with his 2013 Izod INDYCAR series season. Andretti has yet to get a win in 2013, despite being strong and fast at most of the tracks this season. A much needed and well overdue victory, especially at a track like Pocono, that is so close to home could certainly get Andretti headed in the right direction.
It looks like Andretti is poised to do just that as he turned in the fastest practice time on Thursday at Pocono, setting a blistering lap average speed of 220.963 mph (40.730) in the afternoon session. Andretti Autosports look like they're all on the right path for success for Sunday's Pocono INDYCAR 400. Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and James Hinchcliffe were all in the top six in practice times on Thursday in the morning session.
"So far so good, I have to give credit to INDYCAR, I think they did a good job with the aero package and Firestone also did a nice job picking the right tire for this weekend," said Andretti. "From there I think the way things are setup we're going to produce some good racing. Especially, with the downforce levels, the risky setups might work and they might not and vice versa and I think that's what going to make the racing pretty darn good here."
Andretti is trying to add another win to the Andretti family legacy as his grandfather Mario Andretti won the INDYCAR event at Pocono in 1986. Interestingly enough, his father Michael Andretti started from the pole in that race as well.
"It's great to have my dad and grandfather to bounce things off of, but these cars are quite different from the cars that last raced here," said Andretti. "At this level of the sport you have to learn by simply just going out there and driving. My grandfather has definitely been supportive through the whole Pocono process, but he's most supportive when I'm quickest."
Although not getting a win is frustrating, Andretti has been solid as a rock in 2013. He's third in the the standings and has finished in the top 10 eight times this season. However, Andretti knows that one good day of practice does not mean he's a lock for the win come Sunday.
"I think I would be a fool to say that I figured this track out," said Andretti. "I think we're on the right track, but I think when we put these cars in traffic things are going to be much different. We'll see that later today when we start to run in groups. Even if we have it mastered, there are still a lot of things that have to go right in order to be victorious. We've found that out in our last three races where we've been very strong, but we came up short. There are a lot of elements in this sport that have to go right."
RECORD BREAKING ... All 24 cars that practiced on Thursday broke the previous track record that was set by Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989 (211.75 mph). Andretti's time of 220.963 miles per hour shatters the NASCAR mark that was set by Joey Logano last June. Logano ran a lap average speed of 179.598 miles per hour which was a year after they repaved the track.
GOING FOR A MILLION ... Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan is looking to keep his one million dollar hopes alive this weekend at Pocono as he has a chance to win the 2013 Fuzzy's Vodka Triple Crown. The Triple Crown, which has once again been reintroduced by INDYCAR pairs Indy with Pocono and Auto Club Speedway in California. If Kanaan wins at Pocono on Sunday and at Auto Club Speedway he will receive a bonus of one million dollars.