Marco Andretti: “I need to be consistently better”

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Marco Andretti has done good in the first two races of the IZOD IndyCar Series season, collecting a podium finish in the opener at St. Petersburg and a Top-10 finish in the most recent race at Barber Motorsports Park. But with Andretti Autosport teammates James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay winning those events, the third-generation racer seems to figure that “good” is not good enough.

“I really worked on consistency in the off-season so it’s a decent start to that. But when I look at two of my teammates who have won the first two races, I need to be consistently better,” Andretti said to reporters at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “I think if we keep knocking on the door like we have been…Like even last weekend, we had another good shot at another podium, but we lost a lot of time coming out behind another car. We’ve been driving good, so we have to keep doing that.”

Andretti will look to continue the momentum at Long Beach, where his grandfather Mario and father/team owner Michael notched a combined five victories during their driving careers. However, he himself has not had as much success at the Beach. His highest finish there so far is a sixth-place result from 2009, and his last two Beach starts each ended with a DNF.

But coming out of the gate strong this year has him feeling confident, and despite winding up 17th on the combined time sheets in Friday’s practice sessions, he believes he and his No. 25 team are on the right track.

“There is still a lot of speed out there for us to find, and I am feeling optimistic thinking about our potential heading into tomorrow’s [pre-qualifying] practice,” he said. “Today, we tried a lot of different things, but set-ups are always a tricky thing to figure out. It’s great that the track is pretty similar to a year ago, so we can definitely put something together that will keep us competitive this weekend.”

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.