Since @pressdog is all about the fans, I though, hey, let's see what they want to hear from Marco. So 10 minutes before the interview, I tweeted "Who has a question for Marco Andretti?"
Below is the first-ever pressdog™ Twiterview based on the tweeted responses. Ups to Marco who was really quite personable and seemed happy to answer my questions while drinking some kind of smoothy in a plastic cup that proudly said "Made from corn" on the side (I assume it referred to the cup, not the drink). Holy Iowa moment! (See photographic evidence at the end.)
Thanks also to Andretti Autosport PR operative Ryann Rigsby and IndyCar PR giant Arni "The Insider" Sribhen for rigging it. Follow Marco at @andretti26 on Twitter.
Marco: Not really. I think that having dad there, he’s kind of been in my seat before, having the, quote-unquote, "famous father” in sport, so he’s sort of been in my exact seat almost. He runs the show over there so he knows how to handle me, basically. When to be hands off and when to step in and out and he does a great job of that. Really, I view it as a huge positive that I’m part of that family because they are all in my corner. I don’t have to go (race) against them. So I’m very fortunate
pressdog: When you have three teammates, that’s big team. Do you have to get together and hash it out or do you all do your own thing or do you have to get together after a race and all scream or what?
Marco: Not often. There's always sometimes. Because at that speed, it’s tough to arrange things to just work properly. A lot of things happen out of our control and a lot of things happen in our control, so I think we just do the best we can to keep it nice within the team to where we all see the bigger picture and get along and try to help each other. Because if we don’t get along, we’re not going to beat the other guys. I think we all see the bigger picture there.
pressdog: Speaking of beat the other guys, you have done well at Iowa. Is there something about Iowa Speedway? Also you were P3 at Indy and Texas. Is Andretti Autosport coming on lately?
Marco: No magic. Definitely no magic. We just got it right the last couple weeks. The Iowa success -- it’s a very unique circuit so I think we have to credit it on how we rolled off in 2007, really. Because this isn’t a track where we can just bring another set up from another track, really. You bring variations of it, but I think it was a we-hit-the-ground-running type thing in '07 where we have just been able to build on that set up. Basically and we rolled off competitive and hopefully we can keep it there. I think the team has been coming around, you know, and, like I said, it’s really nothing different. We just been able to hit it right the last couple races.
pressdog: Does it suit your style, Iowa, or is it the fact that the setups are so tight?
Marco: I don’t now. It’s tough to talk about driving style and stuff like that on the oval. I enjoy the place. That might have something to do with the success. I have fun here and I think it's a really good, cool event. It’s a mix between a super speedway and short oval.
pressdog: It looks like constant Gs out there. Is that hard to get used to?
Marco: It’s the most physical oval for sure. It is pretty constant. The geometry of the track is such that we’re always turning, so yeah it could take it’s toll on you, especially if the thing is not working for you.
Marco: I enjoyed it. It’s like no other event. It's like Indianapolis, that's how big it is over there. The circuit is one of the coolest track’s I’ve ever been on. Those cars, as a driver are the most enjoyable cars to drive. Loads of downforce which allows you to carry so much speed through the corners. It’s like Formula One downforce and it’s quite enjoyable.
And it’s a very cool event. However, Rebellion -- I'm fortunate they gave me the chance to go drive and so fortunate to be able to say that I’ve been in the 500 and Le Mans within a couple weeks, two of the hugest events in motorsports. We had some reliability issues. They are a very new team. I think we had a ton of potential. We were out at hour 13 -14 or something like that. As a competitor, it’s tough to enjoy yourself when you are not in it to win it, if you know what I mean (due to the reliability issues), but at the same time I just viewed it as a test session and just went and drove laps and enjoyed myself. I had fun.
pressdog: Is driving at night is weird?
Marco: Very, very weird. I can’t say the track is well lit at all. It’s crazy and there are a lot of times you are guessing where to turn in. Sometimes you are a bit early and sometimes you catch yourself late. It’s crazy. Nothing else in my career so far has needed the concentrated that you need at night at that place.
Marco: That's the plan. We've kind of been playing catch up ever since Brazil. From there we have just been kind of clawing our way back and we just need to keep doing what we have been doing. It would be nice to string together a couple wins as well and it’s definitely possible.
pressdog: What’s it going to take to beat the big two on the oval? Do we have to throw severed chicken feat onto the track (in a voo-doo curse like fashion) or something? Because I’m ready to go.
Marco: That’s the thing -- they’re human and we can beat them. I think we have before and we can do it again. On ovals, the thing the team is kind of lacking is just a little bit of overall speed when we’re all flat out. When everyone is flat out, they have an advantage. But when it comes down to handling they're always human and then it's just about getting it right and we can beat them.
pressdog: I know you guys drive those things reasonably aggressively ...
Marco: I think I ran over Arni (Shribhen) a couple of times.
pressdog: Arni doesn't really count ..
Marco: Then, no, I can’t say I've run over anybody, no.
Marco: That’s a funny story. I was riding a four-wheeler actually at my house now in Nazerith with roller blades on. That had nothing to do with the incident. Anyway, I know the yard like the back of my hand and it was just flat out. I was 8 or 9 years old. The night before, it had rained and a truck drove through and left huge ruts. And basically the front wheels just dove on me and the rear tire came around and just smacked my leg. Broke my leg.
Now the funny part about it is when (the four-wheeler) flipped, the throttle stuck wide open ... and now it’s headed for my grandfather’s newly built house. They were going to move in that week. This thing just jumps off the bank lands and turns right before it would have hit the house and hits a crane. I didn’t care about my leg at that point.
Marco: The thing about the IndyCar series is how diverse it is. There are really a lot of people .. it would be really unfair to single somebody out. But if you have to, I'd say one of my friends ... I’d say Dixon or Mike Conway. I definitely admire Mike’s courage to get it back together after that horrific incident. Obviously he’s recouping over in London so we feel for him over there.
Marco: (Ayrton) Senna. Unfortunately, I was never able to meet him, but just the drive and pure passion. I think besides my grandfather I don’t know many people like that in sport, even nowadays, just that passionate about it. There are a lot of people just driving on raw talent and love it, but for the pure love of the sport of I think ... Senna.
(Note: DH means "Dearest Husband" and NOT Designated Hitter)
Marco: I can’t say I’m a fan. I really can’t. I’ll just be blatantly honest. I think there are a couple things that don’t quite work in mind mind yet. Hopefully they prove me wrong. They want to do it with very low horsepower. I can't see it. I don't care how light that thing is, its not going to come off the corner on a road course. It's going to be like an F2000 car coming off there. There’s that, and there’s the steering from the rear, they said, which as a driver is starting over. And there’s always that look thing. I can’t say it’s the prettiest looking thing.
pressdog: Are you one of those guys who lays out detailed plans and has five year plans for yourself that say I want to be here and want to be here, or are you more of a take-it-as-it comes kind of guy?
Marco: Yeah, I like to keep my options open but at this point in time with the way things are, I'm so fortunate to have Venom (energy drink) behind me because my contract is a lengthy one, one of the longest that I've heard of right now. Because obviously it's so hard to find the support nowadays. So I'm fortunate that right now I’m sitting on a four-year contract. From there, I’m always open-minded to a lot of things.
pressdog: Do you like the sponsor relations end of things, working with the sponsor's people. I know it's a necessary part of the job, but do you enjoy it?
Marco: I've learned to. Because, like you said, we have to, so you might as well enjoy it. In the last couple of years I've started to see the bigger picture. When it's so hard to find support, the only way the sponsor can justify sponsoring the team is that we need to give them exposure and get people buying their products. This is the only way we can do it, right? And we (drivers) need to build our own brands as well.
pressdog: What’s the difference between Marco as a rookie and Marco now? What’s change?
Marco: I think that (learning to enjoy sponsor and promotion parts of the job) is a big part of it. In just trying to be more personable. Because as a rookie I was just driving off raw talent and trying to just drive. I thought my only job as a rookie was to show up and drive the race car. There is so much more than that involved in the sport. So much. Obviously, this angle of it (media relations), but then you have setting up the car and you need to explain what the car is doing to the best of your ability. That’s how you get a good car underneath it you. Your guys in the pits, you gotta make them want to work hard for you. It’s more than just showing up and driving, that’s for sure.
pressdog: What's it like to live on the road so many weeks of the year. It seems really nomadic. Do you enjoy that or how do you handle it?
Marco: My schedule the last couple weeks has been crazy. Pretty di-verse. I don’t know; you learn to enjoy it but at the same time there's always that point that if you have races back to back, you always want that week off. But, at the same, I’m the type of person -- if you ask my assistant right here -- that wants to have that day or two off but then I’m on the move again. I’ll be texting her for a flight to go somewhere. We always keep it moving for sure.