Monday, March 27, 2023

Despite Early Exit at Roval, Marco Andretti Wants to Try More NASCAR

Marco Andretti NASCAR
Marco Andretti was just starting to get the hang of it when his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut was cut short due to a crash on Lap 46. Still, Andretti is interested in running more NASCAR events. Photo Credit: Toby Christie /

After exiting the infield care center following his early exit from Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, not even crashing the No. 48 Big Machine Racing Chevrolet Camaro could wipe the smile off of Marco Andretti’s face.

The 35-year-old member of the legendary Andretti racing family, who has two-career wins in the NTT IndyCar Series and captured the championship in the Camping World SRX Series this season, enjoyed his first foray into the world of NASCAR racing. So much, in fact, that he is open to coming back for more.

“I would come back. I would come back,” Andretti stated emphatically when asked if he was interested in running more NASCAR events.

When asked what type of track he would prefer to give it a go at next, Andretti, who has three podium finishes in the Indianapolis 500, gave an interesting answer.

“I haven’t really looked at it. It would be fun to do a really short oval, I think it would be really fun,” Andretti said.

When asked if he would want to run another Xfinity Series race, or try his hand at the NASCAR Cup Series, Andretti said, “We just have to look at opportunities and talk. It was fun, I just didn’t have enough laps.”

While he had fun and is open to a return, there was some concern when his race came to a crashing halt on lap 45. Andretti had broken his wrist while battling for the SRX Championship back in the early portion of the summer.

Fortunately, Andretti says he didn’t get his wrist stuck in the spoke of the steering wheel during his crash, but that he expects to be feeling it for the next few days.

“I got it out in time,” Andretti said of his wrist. “I mean, it’s definitely going to be sore just from wear and tear. This is the first activity since.”

The Pennsylvania native said before the crash eliminated him from the race, he was just starting to get into the groove behind the wheel of the heavier stock car.

“I would assess it as I was just starting to kind of hit a stride,” Andretti explained. “The fun was starting. It took a while for me to get laps. The learning curve is so steep because you have to learn the car and the track at the same time. I just wanted to survive and be out there for this carnage. Unfortunately, we were one of the casualties.”

A lot of what hampered Andretti in the early running of the race, which led to him wheel-hopping the No. 48 car and going for a spin in Turn 12 on lap 15, was just getting acclimated to the braking zones and understanding what the car could and couldn’t do.

“All the heavy braking zones for me, coming from a really light downforce car is — there’s no feel. It’s a lot of guessing and trying to get a feel for where the straight-line braking limit is,” Andretti said. “It caught me in the beginning, but we recovered nicely. Probably going for a top-15 there, which is not bad for our first go.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the sport for several months in 2020, NASCAR has operated on a very lean schedule each weekend when it comes to practice sessions.

Andretti, who has never driven a NASCAR stock car, hopped into the machine and he had only a 20-minute practice session and 15 minutes of qualifying to learn all he could in the car before running Saturday’s race.

The veteran racer says that NASCAR race weekends, in their current format, can be quite a blur, and very hard to achieve success for newcomers.

“Just kind of how quick, by the time I’m learning lefts and rights here, I’m already qualified,” Andretti said when asked about the toughest challenge of the weekend. “I didn’t have enough time to get ready. I think the more laps the better.”

While the box score shows a 36th-place finish for Marco Andretti in his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut, the driver had plenty of fun behind the wheel and he genuinely sounded like this will not be his only experience in a NASCAR race.

When will we see him again? When the right opportunity presents itself.

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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