Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
Michael the Racer? Meet Michael the Businessman
Michael Andretti will retire as a driver after the 87th Indianapolis 500, ending a 21-year career that included a record 42 CART wins. He'll start his last race from the fifth row of the Indy 500 in a Honda-powered Dallara.
"People were asking me, 'What's it like to go out for qualifying for the last time?'" Andretti said. "I was just as nervous as I've ever been. There's something about this place in qualifying that's different. All week long, everything is fine. Then it comes to qualifying, and
Mother Nature does something weird to make you wonder what the car is going to be like. You get all excited and nervous. This year is no different."
Andretti is already spending a great deal of effort on directing his team, Andretti Green Racing. The Indianapolis-based organization, formerly known as Team Green, put three Honda-powered cars in the first five positions for the start of the Indy 500 on May 25. Tony Kanaan will start second, Robby Gordon third and rookie Dan Wheldon fifth.
While disappointed in his qualifying effort, which was affected by a strong wind, Andretti has already begun making the transition from driver to owner.
"I have to look at the big picture," Andretti said. "I'm really happy with the other three cars. I just wanted to do a more respectable job. I knew I wasn't going to get the pole, but I was hoping I'd be in the top six or seven. It was more about pride, though. It's not going to affect me in the race."
Andretti Green Racing is one of the top teams in the Indy Racing League, winning the first two pole positions this season and capturing a victory at Phoenix International Raceway in March. After racing in the 500 for the 14th time, Andretti the racer will become Andretti the businessman.
After the qualifying run, Andretti indicated he has the maturity to make the transition. "If I were two or three years into this, I would have been throwing things and pounding the wall," Andretti said with a smile. "Now we'll start focusing on the race, and that's why I'm here. To win this race."