By Amy Konrath
Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Andretti hopes to add to family history at Pocono
3. Of note
1. Andretti hopes to add to family history at Pocono: Before the June 25 manufacturer test session at Pocono Raceway, Marco Andretti hosted Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe and E.J. Viso plus Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan at his home in Nazareth, Pa.
It was a lighthearted time following eight consecutive weeks of on-track activity to close the first half of the IZOD IndyCar Series season.
“They are never serious at any point and time,” Andretti said of his house guests. “We’re smiling, joking and laughing all the time. That’s what life is about.”
There’s been a positive vibe within Andretti Autosport, too. Following up its 2012 championship with Hunter-Reay, it has been the dominant team through the 10 races with five victories, including a field-high three by Hinchcliffe. Hunter-Reay is nine points behind championship front-runner Helio Castroneves of Team Penske entering the July 7 Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco. Andretti is third and Hinchcliffe is fourth in the standings.
Andretti desperately wants to earn his third career victory, and doing so at his “home race” at Pocono Raceway would be special.
The Andretti family history at “The Tricky Triangle” includes Marco’s grandfather, Mario Andretti, winning the 1986 Indy car race in which his father, Michael, won the pole. Mario won the pole for the 1987 race shortly after Marco was born.
Andretti has eight top-10 finishes, but he said those results aren’t indicative of the strength of the No. 25 RC Cola team. Andretti pointed to his ninth-place finish at Iowa Speedway on June 23, where he was running among the leaders until the right-rear shock failed.
“We’ve been almost dominant the last two races, but had something go wrong,” he said of the Milwaukee and Iowa short ovals. “If we execute and everything goes right, we can win.”
2. Sullivan welcomes Indy car return to Tricky Triangle: Danny Sullivan says that Pocono Raceway was made for IndyCars and vice versa.
Sullivan won the last Indy car race at Pocono Raceway in 1989 and is excited for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ first event at “The Tricky Triangle” on July 7 in the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco.
“I think Pocono is an ideal track for IndyCars,” said Sullivan, who also won the 1984 race. “With all of the upgrades, improvements in safety, you should see a great return from the IndyCar Series.”
Sullivan holds the 500-mile race record of 170.720 mph average speed in the CART-sanctioned 1989 race on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
“A great layout, and three distinctly different corners makes a good setup difficult,” Sullivan added. “Pocono used to be rough, but that added to the challenge. My races there were always close and competitive. Winning it twice was special.”
3. Of Note: Dario Franchitti will be driving the black and orange No. 10 Energizer car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at Pocono Raceway. … Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball will be featured in the July “Athletes Give Back” issue of Sports Illustrated Kids.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco on July 7 at Pocono Raceway. The race will be televised live at noon (ET) by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211, www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 App for most smartphones and tablets. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Pocono 100 at 4 p.m. on July 6 at Pocono Raceway. NBC Sports Network’s coverage of the race will be telecast at 7 p.m. (ET) on July 12.