Marco Andretti: Leading the right laps will be the difference

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Few would argue that Marco Andretti was one of IndyCar’s most improved drivers in 2013.

Come 2014, all the Nazareth, Pa. driver needs to do to improve to that next, championship-contending caliber level is lead the right laps after leading way too many of the wrong ones this past year.

“If you look at what cost us wins last year, really we just need to do a lot of the same things we did last year and really capitalize on leading those laps by leading the right laps,” Andretti told IndyCar.com. “The disappointing stat for me is 1,000 laps led (Andretti has led 907) but only two victories. Really, we need to be there when it counts.”

And through most of the first half last year, Andretti was. But potential wins at Milwaukee and Pocono went begging either for mechanical gremlins or poor fuel mileage, incidentally, while leading and unable to run in a draft.

Meanwhile, Andretti’s consistency throughout the year carried him to a career-best fifth in points. He scored two podiums, third at both St. Petersburg and Brazil, and secured 15 top-10 finishes in 19 races.

Now, Andretti seeks to build on the pair of career victories he has earned in IndyCar. He begins his ninth season in the series this March, the same month he’ll turn 27.

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.