Marco Andretti: “We’re on par for a great season”

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The confidence continues to grow for Marco Andretti, who is now the only IZOD IndyCar Series driver with Top-10 finishes in all four races this season after claiming a third-place result on Sunday at the Sao Paulo Indy 300.

Andretti, who often faltered on road and street courses in 2012, has done the opposite so far in 2013. His run to third in Brazil, which culminated with a last-lap pass of Josef Newgarden to get on the podium, has him believing that this year could be something special for him and his No. 25 RC Cola Andretti Autosport group.

“I think right now, we’re on par for a great season,” said Andretti, who sits second in the IndyCar championship behind Takuma Sato thanks to his early-season success. “[Road/street courses are] what used to be the tough part of the season for me. We’ve been getting some decent results where I used to struggle, so I’m pleased with that.”

With the Indianapolis 500 coming up, he appears to be coming on strong at the right time. Last year at Indy, the third-generation racer qualified fourth and led a race-high 59 laps but couldn’t stay up front in the second half and ended his day crashing with 12 laps to go.

There’s no doubt that he will be itching to erase that bad memory, one almost as gut-wrenching as when he lost the 2006 ‘500’ to Sam Hornish Jr. by six one-hundredths of a second. But while he’ll go all-out for victory at the Brickyard — he is, after all, an Andretti — he knows that there’s the championship to consider, too.

“We have some good momentum going, but we’ve always run well at Indianapolis,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a totally different ballgame being an oval. We just have to get a good race car there. If we can’t win, get another good result and keep the points going.”

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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