Marco Andretti finally ends win drought in unlikely fashion

Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Marco Andretti finally found his way back to victory lane, winning Saturday night’s SRX race at Slinger Speedway. His most recent win had been an IndyCar win many, many years ago.

Throughout the back half of his career as a full-time IndyCar driver, many wondered when Marco Andretti would finally win again.

It became a preseason tradition for some news outlet somewhere to write about why this season would finally be Andretti’s year.

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After a winless 2012 season, 2013 was his year. It looked like it would be, as he actually led the championship standings for the first time in his career.

But he went winless again, so 2014 was his year. Then 2015. Then 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

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Then he announced that he would only be running the Indy 500 in 2021 and that a full-time future in IndyCar is likely not something he will pursue. So he opted to join Tony Stewart’s new star-studded SRX series, a six-race summer stock car series that features several short tracks.

He admitted before the season to Beyond the Flag that this would be a challenge, given his overall lack of familiarity with stock cars compared to many of the other drivers competing in the series.

“That’s a sandbox that I’m not comfortable with! It’s definitely the Cup guys who are going to be more comfortable there than me,” he said. “That’s another thing that I’ve just been trying to challenge myself; get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I think that will improve my driving all-around. I drove a 600 on the dirt with and without wing, and stuff like that; just stuff that I’m not used to doing. That’s been fun for me to bring back the purity of driving from that standpoint.”

But he has adapted quite well, and after back to back fourth place finishes, he took the checkered flag in the inaugural season’s fifth race at Slinger Speedway this past Saturday night.

This ended a drought of more than 10 years since he last visited victory lane for his own achievements as a driver.

Andretti won as an IndyCar rookie in August 2006, doing so at Sonoma Raceway. He then endured a 77-race win drought that ended at Iowa Speedway in June 2011. But since then, he is 0 for 158 at the highest level of American open-wheel racing.

There are a lot of other things that have happened since then as well. At that time, Tom Brady was only a three-time Super Bowl champion, LeBron James hadn’t yet won an NBA championship, Snapchat didn’t exist, Barack Obama hadn’t yet been elected to a second term, etc. You get the idea; the list goes on.

However, more than 10 years later (524 weeks/3,668 days, to be exact), Andretti finally found his way to victory lane once again — something that seemed like it may never happen.

It wasn’t in an IndyCar race, but the IndyCar community was absolutely hyped to watch him finally secure a win.

And given how he pulled it off, perhaps this is just the career resurgence that the 34-year-old Nazareth needs as he continues to pursue his dream of joining his legendary grandfather Mario as an Indy 500 winner.

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With just one race remaining in the 2021 SRX season, Andretti sits in third place in the championship standings behind Stewart and Ernie Francis Jr., the only other two full-time drivers who have managed to secure at least one win this season.