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Marco Andretti Enjoying Familiar Mid-Ohio, Qualifies Seventh For Truck Debut

The two-time IndyCar Series race winner will start seventh in Saturday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Mid-Ohio after a solid qualifying run in the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado.


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Marco Andretti was all smiles after Friday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying session at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Andretti, 36, recorded a solid lap in qualifying and will roll from the grid in the seventh starting spot in Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 150.

As he heads into his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut in the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado, Andretti is confident that he can deliver a good result due to his experience at the 13-turn 2.258-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio.

“It’s still fun. It’s just a different beast,” Andretti said of racing around the course in a NASCAR Truck as opposed to an IndyCar. “Having laps on the track definitely helped me, because my learning curve was a lot steeper in the [NASCAR] Xfinity car at the [Charlotte] ROVAL."

In his post-qualifying press conference, Andretti sounded like a driver with beaming confidence. He said that he had really good pace behind the wheel, and feels once he fully locks in the limit of the truck on the Mid-Ohio race course, that he has some massive potential.

“Stock cars and IndyCars are almost like [comparing] baseball and basketball. For me to go quicker today, I actually had to slow down. That’s a good thing I think," Andretti added. "I’d rather have to slow somebody down rather than having to speed them up. The potential is there.”

Last fall, Andretti struggled in his NASCAR National Series debut, a one-off NASCAR Xfinity Series start for Big Machine Racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, which resulted in a 36th-place finish after a crash on Lap 46 of the event.

On Friday, Andretti admitted that he didn't enjoy his experience at the ROVAL -- a road course built through the infield of the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval, which utilizes portions of the oval as part of the course. Andretti is much more confident with a real road course like Mid-Ohio.

"I didn’t enjoy myself at the ROVAL," Andretti stated. "This is a real race track. [I have] Lots of laps at it. It helps that I didn’t have to learn the track, I just had to learn the truck.”

His performance in qualifying showcased that his past experience at Mid-Ohio paid massive dividends, but Andretti says he made a mistake during his qualifying run. Had it not been for that, he could have very well placed inside the top five of the session.

“Actually, it didn’t even show the potential in the top 10," Andretti explained. "I couldn’t get it turned in Turn 6. So, I think we were about third or fourth there potentially. There’s a lot more coming from me.”

Andretti semi-retired from the NTT IndyCar Series at the end of the 2020 season, as he has chased only the Indianapolis 500 since walking away as a full-time competitor in the IndyCar Series.

In 2021, Andretti began competing in the Camping World SRX Racing Series. After showing some muscle in the all-star stock car racing series in his first season, Andretti returned in 2022 and captured the series championship.

While pursuing a fun schedule of racing, Andretti found his possible calling in a stock car. His SRX performance led to his NASCAR Xfinity Series start at the ROVAL in 2022. Now, in 2023, he looks to put in a solid effort on track with Spire Motorsports at Mid-Ohio.

Now, Andretti, who will return to SRX Racing competition in 2023, says he is open to any and all opportunities in a stock car. At this point in his racing career, it's all about having fun.

“I’m definitely open to all of it. I think that’s the beauty of my schedule,” Andretti stated. “That’s why I had a big smile on my face because I can still win the golden goose at Indy and really take opportunities as they may come. The start, when I went into semi-retirement, SRX was the perfect timing for that. Filling six more races with my buddies, just having fun there. But that, actually, running good in that opened my eyes to running some other stuff. Really, really enjoying myself.”

It may be a stretch to feel that Andretti could win in his debut race in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, but as we saw a weekend ago in Chicago when Shane van Gisbergen scored the victory in his NASCAR Cup Series debut, you can never count out a racer who is thrust into a position in a situation they're comfortable in.

Andretti seems really, really comfortable.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 150 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is set for Saturday, July 8, 2023 at 1:30 PM ET. FS1 will provide the television broadcast of the event, while the radio call will be provided by MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Photo Credit: Ben Branscum, TobyChristie.com

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