IndyCar 2016 driver review: Marco Andretti

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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the Verizon IndyCar Series field in 2016 with Marco Andretti, who had a nightmare season en route to 16th in points.

Marco Andretti, No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2015: 9th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 3rd, 2 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 60 Laps Led, 11.5 Avg. Start, 9.1 Avg. Finish
  • 2016: 16th Place, Best Finish 8th, Best Start 11th, 0 Top-5, 3 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 17.4 Avg. Start, 12.8 Avg. Finish

Let’s get the obvious single line out of the way first: this was Marco Andretti’s worst season in 11 full-time IndyCar campaigns. In 16 races, there were no podiums, no top-fives, only three top-10s finishes, not a single top-10 start, no laps led, and a career-worst average starting position of 17.4. The one bright side was Andretti was the only driver who finished all 16 races, and completed all but eight of the 2,070 laps this year, second only to Charlie Kimball (only missed four laps) in that category.

And now let’s dig deeper. Andretti is not – can’t be – as bad overall as he was this year. This is still a driver who banked top-10 finishes in points in eight of his first 10 seasons, and considering the depth of field, that’s still an achievement. He also was singularly identified as the weakest part of Andretti Autosport this year, but that overlooks the fact that the rest of the team had an overall struggle with mechanical grip throughout the year.

Qualifying was a problem throughout the Andretti quartet. None of the four full-time drivers had a top-10 qualifying average. In total, out of 65 combined qualifying attempts, there were only 16 combined top-10 starts (Carlos Munoz 6, Ryan Hunter-Reay 6, Alexander Rossi 3 and Townsend Bell 1). By contrast, Team Penske secured 28 of the 60 total possible Firestone Fast Six positions this year, while Andretti got four (Hunter-Reay 3, Munoz 1). Andretti himself only led the team’s quartet of qualifying once all year – in Phoenix, when he was 11th, and top Honda.

Andretti is, for better or worse, scrutinized more closely than most others in the field bar Graham Rahal simply because of his last name. Michael Andretti and Mario Andretti both had “off years” in their careers too; the difference was, their “off years” still often ranked in the lower regions of the top-10 in points and won a race or two. Other than his debut year of 1983, when he only started three races, Michael never finished outside the top-10 in points from 1984 to 2002. Mario Andretti is one of the greatest drivers of all-time… and his final season in 1994 saw him finish just 14th in points with one podium and a wealth of DNFs.

This isn’t to let Marco off the hook, but merely a couple notes to indicate that he, like his famous racing father and grandfather before him, is human. The Marco Andretti of 2016 is a more introspective driver; he owns his mistakes, he frequently apologizes because he isn’t the one getting the job done in qualifying, and he does, despite the outward perception that he seems to only care about his friends and the lifestyle he leads, truly want to succeed in this sport. The last time Marco had a year this bad, in 2012, he went through a major self-assessment over the winter and rebounded in a huge way in 2013. He should have won several races and even led the points early in the year. An encore would be a welcome tonic for him in 2017.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024
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An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”