EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Exclusive: 6 full throttle questions for racing legend, Mario Andretti

Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Today I was lucky enough to talk to Mario Andretti, a living legend in auto racing. He has won over 100 races including an Indy 500 in 1969 and a Daytona 500 in 1967. Mario could not have been more kind as we talked about where IndyCar is today and what some plans are moving forward including the recent addition of Jimmie Johnson as it was announced Wednesday that he would drive for Chip Ganassi racing in the IndyCar.

SportsMap: I am joined here today by in my opinion the greatest race car driver who has ever lived, Mr. Mario Andretti. Mario, thank you so much for joining me here today.

Mario Andretti: My pleasure, Trey. Thank you for having me.

SM: So right off the bat as we all know, IndyCar is under new management. How would you rate the job that Roger Penske has done so far in his first season?

MA: Triple A! We're so fortunate that he has [taken] on the reigns of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis during these difficult times, and we have all the confidence in the world that we will get right through this, and we look forward to a better and more prosperous 2021. But to answer your question, we're all thrilled that he's at the helm of the series and Indy. He has made so many improvements to the speedway, and he did all this knowing that the race wouldn't be [run] with fans, so he has done terrific.

SM: You mentioned earlier that he has made many improvements to the speedway, what sort of improvements have you seen that make it more accessible for the fans when they are able to return next year?

MA: Just the accessibility to the fans has been incredible. They have paved a lot of the parking lots, lots of accessibility to the tower, the restrooms are much cleaner and it's only the beginning. He is planning to add at least 20 big screens to the track so the fans can see every inch of the track.

SM: How do you like the racing we are seeing with today's cars? I know they are a lot more spec than they were when you raced. Do you like the product we are seeing on the track?

MA: I think a lot of the racing we see on the ovals and the road courses have put a lot on the drivers themselves because everything is so close together, we see a lot of races that are won and loss in the pits more than ever. So it's kind of become more a team sport as well.

SM: What is your opinion on the new windscreen that IndyCar has unveiled this season to try and protect these drivers?

MA: Well I think there are a lot of benefits to it, but there are also a lot of possible drawbacks as well. They have a lot of work to do, and they haven't had a lot of time with this abbreviated season. And they are working on the ventilation with the heat and everything but when it comes to safety, I am all for it.

SM: It was announced today that Jimmie Johnson would be joining the IndyCar Series next season. How do you think his success will translate over to IndyCar?

MA: First of all, this is wonderful news by the way, and you can see that Jimmie has a lot to give to the sport. He has an enviable record in NASCAR, and then he's young enough that he wants to expand and that's beautiful for the sport. It's a win-win for everyone, motorsports wins and now that he will be going with a team like Chip Ganassi Racing, I think he can be a force to be reckoned with. I think he caught the bug when he did a test in an F1 car in Bahrain with Fernado Alonso so it will be fun to watch for sure.

If you would like to hear the entire interview, you can listen below.

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The Astros are a force at home. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

PROBABLE STARTERS

Fri, Sept. 18 - ARI: Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.15) vs. HOU: Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77)

Sat, Sept. 19 - ARI: Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70) vs. HOU: Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22)

Sun, Sept. 20 - ARI: Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) vs. HOU: Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70)

STORYLINES

Staying Hot at Home? The Astros are now 18-7 at home in 2020 after taking two of three from the Texas Rangers. Conversely, the Diamondbacks are 8-19 on the road. It's a perfect blend for the Astros to continue their winning ways at home and position themselves in a more ideal spot for the playoffs.

Staff Settling in: Greinke and Urquidy taking the bump in a three game series brings a sense of normalcy to the Astros rotation. The days of Brandon Bielak and Luis Garcia getting starts are in the past. McCullers looked fantastic in his outing against the Rangers, and Justin Verlander is close to returning. That is a staff capable of winning a World Series.

Sinking Ship: The Astros win over the Rangers Thursday night kept the Mariners three games back of the Astros with just 10 games left to play. The Astros also own the tiebreaker over Seattle, meaning Seattle really needs to make up four games to jump the Astros for a playoff spot. Of course, the Astros' series in Seattle starting Monday will play a big role in that.

PREDICTION

The Diamondbacks are reeling, and the Astros are a force at home. Zac Gallen presents some problems for a slumping offense, but the Astros break out against Weaver and Bumgarner to take two of three.

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