Marco Andretti had been eyeing a NASCAR ride since exiting the NTT IndyCar Series, and he will finally get his chance when he enters the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval on 8 October. He will drive the #48 Chevrolet Camaro for Big Machine Racing Team.
“I’m grateful to (team owner) Scott Borchetta for giving me this cool opportunity to try my hand at an Xfinity road course,” said Andretti. “I have really taken a liking to the stock car experience and look forward to having some fun driving the Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers #48 Camaro in Charlotte.”
Andretti, whose lineage needs no introduction, was a mainstay in IndyCar from 2006 to 2020, winning twice and scoring the Indianapolis 500 pole in 2020. Upon retiring from full-time competition (only returning for the 500), he turned towards closed-wheel racing such as IMSA and the Superstar Racing Experience.
SRX, a short track series owned by three-time NASCAR Cup Series and 1997 IndyCar champion Tony Stewart, saw Andretti win at Slinger Speedway during the inaugural season in 2021 before taking the championship in 2022 despite going winless. During the 2021 SRX season, he revealed plans of racing in the Xfinity Series with speculation pointing at Stewart’s Stewart-Haas Racing as a potential suitor. Following the SRX race at the Nashville Fairgrounds on 9 July, he disclosed to Frontstretch that he was “talking to some people” about going to NASCAR.
Although SRX exclusively competes on ovals and one of Andretti’s two IndyCar victories was on one (Iowa in 2011), Big Machine Racing will place him on a road course to as a track type he is particularly accustomed to.
“I think [Borchetta] choosing [the Roval] race is pretty awesome because I actually did want to try road courses as well, plus I mean Charlotte’s the home turf for them,” Andretti told Steven Boero of The Sports Credential at the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville on Sunday.
Andretti is yet another name in the so-called “new open-wheel invasion” of NASCAR. 1995 Indianapolis 500 champion Jacques Villeneuve ran the Daytona 500 for Team Hezeberg, who also fielded a car for Formula One driver Daniil Kvyat at Indianapolis in late July. Retired F1 star Kimi Räikkönen is making his NASCAR début at Watkins Glen later in August, while another F1 alumnus Tarso Marques has long been expected to enter the series provided he receives approval from NASCAR. Hélio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, both of whom have raced against Andretti in IndyCar and SRX, are also in talks for NASCAR rides.
“I am so excited that Marco Andretti will be driving our Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers #48 Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the Roval in Charlotte,” Borchetta added. “He’s done such a great job in SRX and I think his skills will shine brightly in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.”
Big Machine began the 2022 season with Jade Buford as full-time driver before struggles resulted in him being replaced by a rotation after eight races. Tyler Reddick won the team’s first race at Texas, while fellow Cup drivers Austin and Ty Dillon and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have also made starts. Nick Sanchez is on a four-race deal with the team as is Kaz Grala. In his interview with Boero, Borchetta added Parker Kligerman will drive the #48 at Talladega a week before Andretti’s Roval start. The #48 is currently twenty-first in owner points.