Photo: Michael L. Levitt

Michael Andretti hopes to eventually top Roger Penske in Indy 500 wins

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Quick: What IndyCar owner has earned the most Indianapolis 500 wins since 2005?

If you said Roger Penske – and hard as it may seem to believe, given his teams have won the 500 a record 16 times – you’d be wrong.

Michael Andretti was in Detroit on Wednesday to pick up his fifth “Baby Borg Trophy” since 2005 – the highly-coveted miniature version of the prestigious Borg-Warner Trophy presented every year to the race winner and team owner of the 500.

Andretti’s 500 winners have been Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Alexander Rossi (2016) and Takuma Sato (2017). That’s five winners in the last 13 years of the 500.

Team Penske, meanwhile, has won the 500 just once in the last three years (2015, Juan Pablo Montoya) and three times since 2005 (2006, Sam Hornish Jr., and 2009, Helio Castroneves).

While Penske still outweighs Andretti 16-5 as the winningest modern-day owners in the Greatest Spectacle In Racing (Lou Moore won 5 Indy 500s as an owner from 1938 to 1949), Andretti wants Penske to hear his footsteps coming – and hopes to overtake him one day as the winningest team owner in Indy 500 history.

“That’s my goal,” Andretti told NBC Sports in an exclusive interview. “I keep telling Roger I want to do that. We’re a third of the way there.”

Andretti has developed his organization, Andretti Autosport, borrowing several pages from the playbook that Penske used to build Team Penske over the last 52 years.

“He’s always our benchmark,” Andretti said of Penske. “Roger, anywhere he goes, he’s going to set the benchmark. And if you can beat him, you’re beating the best of the field.

“We’ve been able to do that the last few years at Indy. Indy is very special to him and to be able to beat him at that place is a big accomplishment. Yeah, my goal is, before they bury me, is to have more Borgs than Roger.”

“Yeah, my goal is, before they bury me, is to have more Borgs than Roger.”

Penske turns 81 on February 20. Andretti turned 55 last October 5.

“(The Indy 500 is) the most special thing we do,” Andretti said. “This is a moment we all want, to be able to win the Indy 500. That’s what we’re all doing, that’s our Super Bowl.

“And now, to be able to say we’ve won it five times is amazing, and that we’re now second to only Roger Penske in wins.

“When you look at coming up on 102 years of history, to be part of that, that’s what it’s all about. We’re just very proud as a team, we like it, we love the feeling and we want to keep doing this. Our goal is to do it again this year.”

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.