Word was released earlier on today that NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, John Andretti is to drive a fifth Andretti Autosport car at this year’s Indianapolis 500. There were also rumours that the seat could go to either JR Hildebrand or Franck Montagny pending sponsorship, but it appears the cousin of team boss Michael Andretti has got there first.
Should he qualify, Andretti – who is 47 years-old – will be competing in his eleventh Indy 500 following his début at the famous race in 1988. He drove mainly Lola machinery for various team owners until 1994, before he left for what was then the NASCAR Winston Cup. Andretti returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as an Indycar driver in 2007 with Panther Racing and also drove for Marty Roth and Richard Petty Motorsports in the two 500-mile races since then. Andretti has a best qualifying position of 7th in the 1991 Indy 500 and a best finish of 5th at the same event, however the likelihood of the veteran repeating that performance is rather slim.
There is still no confirmation as to who will be the main backer for the fifth Andretti Autosport car, but whether this year’s entry will carry any NASCAR related sponsorship. The Indy Racing League has struggled somewhat in recent years with attendance and TV numbers; however it is thought these numbers have reached plateau and with a new CEO and title sponsor, the series may see a slow upswing in these figures.