Adding To The Legacy
May 25, 2006 | 12:00 A.M. EST
At Talladega the name Earnhardt brings back memories of joy as Dale Sr. won a record 10 events, passing the torch to his son Dale Jr. who has built an equally impressive reputation as one of the best on the 2.66 mile superspeedway, winning the second most events in speedway history with five.
At Daytona, Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500, etching his name in the record books before his son Richard rewrote them on his way to winning the most events at the famed speedway with 10 overall.
At Indianapolis, which will host the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 this weekend, one name stands above all others: Andretti.
Sure, the Unser clan of Al, Bobby and Al Jr. have won many more races (nine versus Mario’s sole victory in 1969), but a mention of the name Andretti at Indianapolis invokes memories unlike any other.
"Remember when Mario took the pole in 1987 and almost won?"
"How about Michael, coming so close to winning the 500 so many times only to fall short?"
But this weekend, a new page in the family’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway book will be written as 19 year old Marco takes the 500 green flag for the first time.
"I'm definitely excited to, I say, finally be here. I'm only 19. I'm definitely happy and ready to get going," said Marco prior to the start of the month. "I'm not really worried about trying to fulfill anybody's expectations toward me because I think mine are pretty high for myself."
It seems that whatever those expectations are, the young man has been able to achieve them handily.
Despite having had problems earlier in the IRL IndyCar season, committing mistakes on pit road that led to broken drive shafts in the first two races of the year, the novice driver has been in top form through the month of May – breezing past his rookie orientation test and qualifying ninth for Sunday’s race.
"Obviously I want to win this race," said Andretti after claiming the American Dairy Association of Indiana Fastest Rookie of the Year Award just like his grandfather (in 1965) and father (in 1984). "If we set our goals high, then hopefully good things will follow."
With father Michael starting behind him in 13th position, and with the knowledge that he has won at this track in the past (having won the June 18 2005 Indy Lights race), the young driver is certainly fit to add to the legacy of both his family and the track beginning this weekend.