'I ended up being one of the casualties' - Andretti on Xfinity debut DNF

Courtesy of Big Machine Racing

'I ended up being one of the casualties' - Andretti on Xfinity debut DNF

NASCAR

'I ended up being one of the casualties' - Andretti on Xfinity debut DNF

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Despite being sidelined just 27 laps shy of the double-overtime finish in Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval, Marco Andretti said he would like to return to NASCAR.

“I think it’d be fun to do a really short oval,” Andretti said.

Andretti made his NASCAR debut with Big Machine Racing in the Xfinity Series but didn’t rule out returning to stock car racing in the Cup Series. It all depends on which series possesses the best opportunity, he said.

Saturday, Andretti was running 20th with 21 laps remaining in the scheduled 67-lap event when he slammed into the side of Jeb Burton, whose Chevrolet had spun and was sitting in the middle of the track in turn six. The impact destroyed the front of Andretti’s Chevrolet.

“I didn’t know somebody was spun three cars up [in front of me],” the 35-year-old said. “Of course, that’s the corner where the spotter can’t see. This is the carnage I wanted to be out there for to try to survive and I ended up being one of the casualties.”

Prior to the accident in the race’s final stage, Andretti finished stage one in 24th. He pitted during the stage break and restarted stage two in 31st. By the time stage two ended on lap 40 he was 14th. Another stop placed him 23rd in the field when the race’s final stage received the green flag.

While Andretti escaped injury in the late-race accident, he admitted he “tweaked” his wrist “a little.” He had broken the wrist earlier this year in the Camping World SRX Series season finale. Despite the broken wrist, he completed the final nine laps in that event to claim the 2022 SRX championship and admitted he learned a lesson in that race.

“My reaction time’s a little quicker to get it out of the wheel this time,” he said outside the track’s infield care center. “It’s definitely going to be sore just from wear-and-tear because it’s the first activity since [it was broken].”

Andretti described his NASCAR debut as “fun” but noted he “just didn’t have a lot of time to prepare and get laps.” He said he was just “starting to get into the groove” when the accident occurred.

“Learning the car and the track was a pretty steep learning curve,” Andretti continued. “I just wanted to survive and it’s a bummer we just got caught out.

“I was just starting to kind of hit a stride and the fun was starting. It took a while for me to just get laps.”

Andretti qualified 30th in the 38-car field and advanced to 25th in the first 10 laps. However, five laps later, as he sped into the backstretch chicane, he hit the turtles. That miscue launched him into the air before the car bounced and spun. In a Friday interview with Dave Moody on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Andretti called Turn 1 on the 2.28-mile Charlotte road course a “sucker” turn. He labeled that chicane entrance as another one.

“All of the heavy braking zones for me, coming from really light downforce cars — there’s just no feel,” Andretti said. “It’s a lot of guessing and trying to get a feel for where [the] straight-line braking limit is, so it caught me out in the beginning, but we recovered nicely and [we were] probably on for a top 15 there which is not bad for a first go.”

It was not to be, and Andretti had to settle for a 36th-place finish.

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