Marco Andretti stepping away from full-time IndyCar racing in 2021

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In what he said was an opportunity to “reset” his racing career, Marco Andretti announced Friday that he will step away from his full-time duties in the NTT IndyCar Series for 2021.

The third-generation driver still will race in the 105th Indianapolis 500 and left open the possibility of running additional IndyCar events this season.

He also will work with Andretti Autosport during preseason testing and development, including an upcoming Jan. 19 test session at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.

“I am fortunate to be in a position at Andretti Autosport to run the full IndyCar season if I want to. But, instead, I have decided to change up my direction somewhat – to reset – to do something a little different – look at everything fresh and see where that takes me. And, to me, now seems like the appropriate time to do that,” Marco said in a statement that he initially posed through social media.

“I definitely am going to keep driving. I still have a deep passion for it and have unfinished business to take care of and some boxes that I want to check before I consider retiring as a driver.”

Along with his scaled-back work in IndyCar, Marco also expressed interest in running sports car events, including some IMSA events with his cousin, Jarett Andretti. Last October, Andretti Autosport announced an LMP3 program for the IMSA Prototype Challenge series with Jarett as a driver.

“I’ll be looking into other sports car opportunities as well in the coming months and welcome discussions in that regard,” Marco continued. “Marquee events like the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Le Mans would be on that list for sure.”

The Indianapolis Star reported that Andretti Autosport would scale back from five to four full-time cars next season. Ryan Hunter-Reay became the team’s third confirmed driver Thursday, joining Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta, and James Hinchcliffe is expected to return toa full-time seat.

Marco has made 248 NTT IndyCar Series starts over the past 15 seasons, earning two victories at Sonoma Raceway in 2006 and Iowa Speedway in 2011.

He also won the pole position for last year’s Indianapolis 500, which made him the first Andretti to pull off the feat since his grandfather, Mario Andretti, in 1987. The “500” has traditionally been Marco’s best race; in addition to his narrow runner-up to Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006, he has finished third in the race on three separate occasions (2008, 2010, 2014).

Marco’s best showing in the IndyCar standings was a fifth-place finish in 2013. That season was highlighted by podium finishes at St. Petersburg, Florida and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“I think for any multi-generational athlete, it can be really challenging to find your own ground and make your own name on top of your family’s,” his father, Andretti Autosport team owner Michael Andretti, said in his own statement. “Marco has always had the courage to chart his own path and I’m proud of the career he’s built for himself and the person he’s become. I know this decision wasn’t easy.

“But, like he has said, this is not retirement. He has some great accomplishments behind him and I think he still has many more ahead of him. He’s offered to help us out with some testing, I’m looking forward to having him back with us for the 500, and hopefully maybe a few more races through the season.”