Skip to content

Sonoma flashback: Marco Andretti scores first IndyCar win in 2006

Aug 19, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Getty Images

As the 2006 IRL IndyCar Series season entered its final stages, a tight championship battle was ensuing between Team Penske’s Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves and Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon.

But in the penultimate race of the year at Sonoma Raceway, their ongoing pursuit of the IRL title was overshadowed as third-generation driver Marco Andretti notched his first career IndyCar win on the technical Northern California road course.

It took some risk and luck for the son of Michael and grandson of Mario to break through and become the youngest driver ever to win a major American open-wheel event.

On Lap 44, Andretti pitted his No. 26 Andretti Green Racing Honda and then chose to stay on track when a caution came out at Lap 51. That forced the then-19-year-old driver to save fuel later on in the closing laps of the race.

A win for Andretti was very much in doubt, but with less than 10 laps left and AGR teammate Dario Franchitti closing in on him, another AGR driver, Bryan Herta, spun out at Turn 7 to trigger a caution.

That helped ease Andretti’s fuel issues, and he was able to hold off Franchitti in the end to secure his inaugural victory.

“I knew that Dario [Franchitti] is normally the king of saving fuel,” Andretti said. “After he got by Tony [Kanaan], I knew it definitely wasn’t over, and he would push me hard during the final laps.

“I had to run some pretty fast laps at the end, but we just needed to stay consistent, save the tires and fuel, and it all worked out.”

Meanwhile, some of his fellow competitors wondered if Herta had done his team a solid with his late spin.

“There’s no doubt he spun on purpose,” Wheldon said after the race according to ESPN’s John Oreovicz. “Bryan definitely took one for the team today and that’s not how any race should be decided.”

For his part, Herta denied the accusations, maintaining that he simply got on the throttle too early going into Turn 7 before looping his No. 7 Honda around.

While that debate raged, Castroneves’ fifth-place finish enabled him to take a one-point lead over Hornish going into the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.

In the Windy City, however, it was Hornish who drove away with his third IRL crown. Wheldon won that race, with teammate Dixon in second, Hornish in third, and Castroneves in fourth.

But the result brought Hornish and Wheldon into a tie atop the standings, and Hornish claimed the title via tiebreaker – his four race wins trumping Wheldon’s two.

As for Andretti, he’d have to wait until 2011 before he added his second IndyCar race win at Iowa Speedway.

The IndyCars return to Sonoma Raceway this Sunday for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra for your online and mobile devices.

Latest Posts
  1. Grosjean reveals Lotus escape clause

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    GrosjeanAUS AP

    Romain Grosjean can opt out of Lotus at year’s end if he so desires.

  2. Button hit with five-place grid penalty for Austin

    Oct 30, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-RUS Getty Images

    British driver forced to change his gearbox for this weekend’s race at COTA.

  3. Johnny Sauter is fastest in both Truck practices at Texas

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT

    (Sean Gardner/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway) Getty Images

    Johnny Sauter was fastest in both NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practices Thursday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway.

  4. NASCAR America video: Top five drivers to watch in Texas

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT

    (Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images) Getty Images

    On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Rusty Wallace gave his top five drivers to watch in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Texas. Rusty’s pick for the winner? Jeff Gordon.

  5. Alonso speaks of “ambitious plan” for his racing future

    Oct 30, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Qualifying Getty Images

    Spaniard says that his future is not his first priority, and that all of the events of the past few months have gone as planned.

  6. NASCAR America video: Who has the best chance in Texas?

    Oct 30, 2014, 5:58 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

    On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, Rick Allen and Rusty Wallace discussed what are Carl Edwards’ and Jeff Gordon’s chances Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

  7. Kaltenborn “beyond the stage of frustration” over F1’s cost crisis

    Oct 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-SIN-F1 Getty Images

    Sauber team boss has long warned about the problems blighting Formula 1.

  8. Hamilton excited by F1’s profile and growth in the USA

    Oct 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton AP

    British driver speaks about his appearance on NBC’s TODAY Show and his trip to New York City.

  9. Hamilton questions fairness of double points

    Oct 30, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel AP

    Lewis Hamilton politely questions double points.

  10. 2014 United States Grand Prix Preview

    Oct 30, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton AP

    As the end of the 2014 Formula 1 season draws near, the sport ventures to the United States for one of the most popular races of the year in Austin, Texas.

  11. Watch NASCAR America LIVE at 5 pm ET: Texas 3-step, Harvick’s 500th, up-and-coming Quiroga, lots more

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    NASCAR America

    Things are always bigger and better in Texas, and we live up to that with the big show we have planned for Thursday’s NASCAR America.

  12. Miles explains IndyCar’s 2015 schedule changes, clashes

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    TorontoLeadPts Getty Images

    Date changes, date equity, and broadcast windows play key role in shaping 2015 IndyCar schedule.

  13. What does the future hold for F1 in the United States?

    Oct 30, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    F1 United State Grand Prix Auto Racing AP

    F1 is booming in the United States, but could the arrival of an American team and an American driver send its popularity off the charts?

  14. Road To: Mercedes teaser – The very first Mercedes-Benz car (VIDEO)

    Oct 30, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    RTM Logo 101714

    Ahead of the premiere of Road to Mercedes on NBCSN at 10p ET, here is one final teaser for the show that will see NBCSN’s Will Buxton and Jason Swales travel to Germany to visit the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart.

  15. Vergne: Being kept by Toro Rosso win-win for everybody

    Oct 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia Getty Images

    Frenchman thinks he would be the best choice for Toro Rosso in 2015 alongside Max Verstappen.

  16. Perez close to new deal with Force India

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain Getty Images

    Sergio Perez closing on in contract extension with Force India.

  17. In just three years, why have Austin and COTA become favorites for F1?

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1-US Grand Prix AP

    The F1 community loves coming to Austin and COTA, but why?

  18. Crew chief trade for Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch begins this weekend

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT

    (Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images) (Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

    This weekend’s race at Texas will mark the official debut of Tony Gibson and Daniel Knost as crew chiefs for Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick, respectively. How will they and their drivers fare together?

  19. Successful COTA Forum in Austin proves the importance of fan engagement in F1

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Fan Forum - Austin, TX Getty Images

    Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez appear at the event in Austin ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.

  20. Get your calendars ready for conflicts: Here’s the IndyCar/sports car ones in 2015

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Long-Beach-Lead Getty Images

    Get your calendars out and start marking up which series run where, when.

Video from NASCAR America

Who has the best chance in Texas?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. McMurray (1096)
  2. J. Logano (1033)
  3. K. Harvick (1027)
  4. T. Stewart (1021)
  5. D. Hamlin (871)