The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

July 8, 2013

Motorsports: Andretti fueled by passion

(Continued)

One track Andretti enjoyed was Trenton where he was a six-time Indycar and Champ Car winner.

Pocono beginnings

While the late Dr. Joseph Mattioli was the founder of the Long Pond speedway, Andretti had a hand in getting it started.

"The whole project was so welcomed right from the very beginning," he said. "It represented a super speedway right in our own back yard. I was part of some of the early meetings even before ground was broken."

He won the open-wheel race in 1986. That year, son Michael (now team owner of Andretti Autosport) sat on the pole, and nephew Jeff Andretti won what is today's version of the Indy Lights.

"From the first race on, it was a heaven for the East Coast," Andretti said of racing at Pocono. "To go back there now, it's the bright side of the series. We needed to be at Pocono again."

During test sessions leading up to today's race, some drivers referred to Turn 1 at Pocono as "a monster" and "a beast," with its 14-degrees of banking patterned after the Trenton (N.J.) Speedway.

"I know exactly what they are talking about," Andretti said. "It's daunting. The straight is longer than Indy or any other super speedway we go to. They'll never lift. They'll be going 240 mph into it and the jolt of 6.5 Gs -- wow -- that's big-time stuff."

Mario's winning pole speed in 1987 was 152.016 mph. Marco's pole speed for today's race was 221.273 mph.

Today's race also features a three-wide start which was used in the original days of the Triple Crown. Today's Triple Crown is comprised of the Indianapolis 500, the Pocono 400 and the Auto Club (Calif.) 500.

Marco, who was two years old the last time the Indycars raced at Pocono, is third in the series points entering today's race. Teammate and defending IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay is second (two wins) and James Hinchcliffe (three wins), is fourth in points. Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves is the points leader.

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