INDIANAPOLIS – John Andretti loves the 2.5-mile oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It doesn’t always love him back.
Andretti took a double hit here on Sunday, crashing while trying to find more speed on the famed Brickyard track and then getting bumped from the tentative Indy 500 lineup by a faster car.
So instead of spending the four days on the track this week working on the race setup in his Richard Petty Motorsports entry, the 46-year-old will be forced to requalify on Saturday, when the final 11 spots in the 33-car field are filled, or on Sunday, when the slowest qualifiers can be bumped out of the lineup for the May 24 race.
“I feel fine,” Andretti said after the crash. “The car took a beating, and that’s frustrating. But the team will work on it and we’ll be back next week.”
It’s just the latest setback for a member of his family – another chapter of the so-called “Andretti Curse” at Indianapolis.
Since Mario Andretti, John’s uncle, won the 500 in 1969, at least one family member has raced here in all but two years (2004 and 2005) without another victory. Broken parts and broken hearts have mostly been their lot at Indy.
Mario raced here 24 more times, dominating at times, but never again reaching the checkered flag first.
His oldest son, Michael, raced at Indy 16 times. He also dominated races and still holds the record for leading the most laps (431) without winning.
Michael’s younger brother, Jeff, crashed out of two of his three Indy starts.
Marco Andretti, Michael’s son and Mario’s grandson, seems to have the best shot at ending the family jinx. He has finished second and third in three tries, losing the lead to Sam Hornish Jr. on the last lap of the 2005 race. He will start in the middle of the third row next week.
That leaves John, who has had his own misfortunes here but plans to be racing in the 500 for the 10th time.
“This is the only race in the world that counts,” he said last week, before his latest Indy crash. “You’ve got to understand my family history. . . . When I was a kid, I was here. When I was grown up, I was here.
“This place has been good to our family, a little bit, and rough on it in a lot of ways. But that’s the passion of this place.”
Rahal puts Servia on team
INDIANAPOLIS – Former Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal’s team is back in business.
Rahal announced Wednesday he has reached a deal with a new sponsor to put veteran Spanish driver Oriol Servia in the cockpit of his No. 17 car for this month’s Indianapolis 500.
Servia started 25th in last year’s 500 and finished 11th.
Rahal has not competed in the IndyCar series this year after losing his primary sponsor. The team’s one-race deal is with DAFCA, a company that provides security services against cyber terrorism.
Rahal won the 1986 Indy 500 as a driver, and his team won another Indy title in 2004 with driver Buddy Rice.