Michael Andretti on his team’s 200th victory: “It’s a great feeling”

by Jordan Groves

After Andretti Autosport secured their two-hundredth race win as an organisation at the NTT IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, team owner Michael Andretti has stated that he is “so proud” of what the team has been able to accomplish in such a relatively short amount of time.

Alexander Rossi was the driver that took Andretti to their two-hundredth win as a team. The American drove a perfect race on Sunday to dominate the 2019 Grand Prix of Long Beach. He started on pole position and led eighty of the eighty-five lap race distance on the way to taking the win, his second straight victory on the streets of his home-state.

Long Beach was somewhat of a fitting location for Andretti Autosport to hit the milestone of two-hundred wins; as the famous street circuit has been a good hunting ground for the team and the Andretti family in the past. The team has now taken six victories at Long Beach in both IndyCar and Indy Lights. Additionally, both Michael and Mario Andretti have both taken victories at Long Beach.

After Rossi’s win last Sunday, Michael Andretti himself stated that he was “really happy” that Andretti Autosport’s two-hundredth win came at Long Beach. Additionally, he would comment on how he “didn’t know what to expect” when he became the co-owner of the team back in 2003.

“Did I ever expect to be at 200 wins over, I don’t know how many years it’s been, 15 or whatever?” said Andretti on Sunday. “No. I mean, I think I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest with you. It’s been a lot of fun. Been a lot of hard work. It’s definitely different being on this side of it, being an owner over a driver.

“It’s got its challenges, but it also has its rewards. For me, it still gives me a reason to get up in the morning. It’s always a challenge, something new, something you have to deal with every day. I like challenges.”

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

Andretti Autosport’s roots go back to 2003 when Michael bought into Team Green who competed in the CART series. For that season, the team would move over to IndyCar, with Michael taking part in his final full-time IndyCar race at that year’s Indianapolis 500.

The team did not have to wait long to secure their first victory. That came at Phoenix International Raceway in March 2003 with Tony Kanaan. Tony, along with Michael’s replacement, Dan Wheldon would go on to secure back-to-back IndyCar championships for Andretti Green in 2004 and 2005.

By the end of 2009, the team had gone on to secure fifty-two race victories. Notable milestones up to that point had included the team’s first wins in Indy Lights and the American Le Mans Series, as well as the first win for a woman in IndyCar when Danica Patrick won at Twin-Ring Motegi in 2008.

At the end of 2009, it was announced that Andretti Green Racing would be renamed Andretti Autosport, thus becoming the team we know today. Since then, the team has gone on to win championships in Indy Lights, USF 2000 and Pro Mazda, as well as the 2012 IndyCar championship with Ryan Hunter-Reay. The team has also expanded further to compete in various other championships, taking victories in both the Global RallyCross and Americas RallyCross championships in the last few years. Additionally, at the end of last year, Andretti took their first win in Formula E, with Antonio Felix da Costa taking BMW i Andretti Motorsport to victory at the 2018 Ad Diriyah ePrix.

For a team that is only sixteen years old, to have taken two hundred wins across eight championships with thirty-eight different drivers is a remarkable achievement, something that Michael admitted on Sunday that he was “so proud” to have been a part of.

“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in I think a short period of time, to get to 200,” Michael said after Sunday’s race, “We’ve had so many great people help get us there. I was just told we had 38 different drivers that won for us over the years to get us to this point. It’s a great feeling.”

“I think when you win as an owner, it’s like a real shared win,” Michael would add when asked about the differences in winning as a driver to winning as a team owner. “You’re just happy not really just for yourself but everybody in the team. Yeah, whereas as a driver, it more feels like a self-accomplishment. It is different. They’re both great in a different way.”

Andretti Autosport’s nearest opportunity to take their two-hundred and first victory will be in the next round of the 2018/2019 Formula E World Championship, the Paris ePrix, on Saturday, April 27. The team’s next NTT IndyCar Series race, the 2019 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, will take place on Saturday, May 11.

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