Marco Andretti’s SBRS History

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Monday, June 05, 2006 LAKEVILLE, Conn. – In two weeks time, Marco Andretti has made an enviable impact on the racing world. It’s said Andretti’s name is even on the lips of the Formula One pooh-bahs thanks to his extremely strong showing – he very nearly won – in the Indy 500.

This past weekend, Andretti was in the hunt to win the IRL’s Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix. He was gaining a second-per-lap on the leaders and was up to third place late in the race when a coming-together with Eddie Cheever at the entrance to Turn Nine resulted in a dramatic end to his day.

It is a rare and glorious thing to see rookies in top-level open wheel racing make such an impressive showing so early in the season.

What’s been lost in a lot of this wonderful hoopla surrounding Marco Andretti’s success is his Skip Barber background. For the record, he’s entered a grand total of 76 auto races since he left the karting ranks in early 2003 — and 53 of them (that’s 76 percent) were with Skip Barber.

Like all drivers in any of the Skip Barber racing championships, Andretti was coached by Skip Barber instructors for every corner after every session: practices, qualifiers, races. Like all top athletes, the fastest race car drivers have natural talent; how quickly they come to harness and exploit that talent has as much to do with the coaching as does attitude, aptitude and the willingness to learn.

From March 16, 2003, when he completed his Skip Barber Three Day Racing School at Savannah, Georgia’s Roebling Road (instructors: Steve DeBrecht, Don Kutschell and Keith Watts), until August of 2004, when he clinched that year’s Skip Barber National Presented by RACER championship and it’s $100,000 title bonus, Andretti entered 50 Skip Barber races, driving the 150 h.p. R/T 2000 race car.

Along the way Marco won eight of 16 races to win the 2003 Skip Barber Eastern Region title; then 10 of 14 races in the 2003-2004 Skip Barber Southern Region to win that title; then, in 2004, Andretti had one victory and eight additional podiums in 14 races in the ultra-competitive Skip Barber National, clinching that championship in the last race of the year, nine points more than runner-up Gerardo Bonilla (who would win the National the next year). Nine additional non-points Skip Barber races are also on Andretti’s resume.

After having left his mark in the Skip Barber system – 19 wins in 44 points-scoring starts between April of 2003 and August of 2004 – Marco entered the 2005 Star Mazda championship (no wins and three top-fives in 12 starts) and six Infiniti Pro Series races (three wins and two other podiums).

This year in the IRL, Andretti had mechanical DNFs at Homestead and St. Petersburg; a 12th at Motegi, Japan; the second-place at Indy; and the Cheever crash at Watkins Glen.

060506a
Marco Andretti at Road America, on the eve of his clinching the Skip Barber National championship in 2004. In the background happens to be Don Kutschall — one of his instructors at Andretti’s three-day school a year and a half earlier…

Rick Roso

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