2013 Indianapolis 500: Mario Andretti doesn’t believe in the curse and picks his grandson to win the race

Robert Laberge

Mario Andretti won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, but his family has been kept out of victory lane ever since. Despite fast cars, bad luck and misfortune have surrounded Michael and Marco Andretti in recent years. The eldest Andretti believes that misfortune will end on Sunday afternoon.

Mario Andretti doesn't believe in the so-called "Andretti curse" that has kept his family out of victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1969 -- the year of Mario's only victory in the Indianapolis 500.

"I don't want to hear about that," Andretti told SB Nation over the phone on Friday night. "Tom Carnergie, my old friend, came up with that but I never saw it in those terms."

Despite several dominant performances after 1969 by Mario and his son, Michael, the Andretti lineage hasn't won the Indy 500 ever since. The elder Andretti believes this could change on Sunday with his grandson, Marco, who led most of the practice sessions and will start third. He believes his grandson has the easiest path toward winning the 2013 race.

"Marco is set up to win this race," Andretti said. "He's coming in here with a lot of momentum, second in points and running well on every type of track. He loves this place and is sitting pretty going into the moment. I'm quite happy and all we can do from here is keep our fingers crossed."

As is customary on race day, the fiery Andretti says he will watch the 500 from the Andretti pit box and expects to motivate his grandson's crew when necessary.

"I'm more that prepared to go down there and kick their shins if the situation calls for it," Andretti said with only a slight hint of humor. "But I don't think I'll have to. These guys have worked so hard and that's why I think they're the favorites.

"You just see where everything is going their way right now."

Andretti has been coming to the Speedway for nearly 50 years but says he anticipates the green flag today just as much as he had when he was driving. A large part of that, he says, is the timeless tradition and the immortal mystique of the 2.5-mile flat oval.

"There are only a few moments that can change entire lives and this is one of them," Andretti said. "It's one of only a handful of races that equals an entire championship. Michael has five drivers in this race and no team has ever done that. We recognize the flash and prestige this race can bring to you.

"I've only won it once but that's a moment that I will carry with me for the rest of my life."

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