What’s Michael Andretti Thinking? Or, Michael’s Murky, Muddled Mind

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Winner of forty two open wheel races and 1991 Champ Car champ, Michael Andretti unquestionably has lived up to the lofty Andretti IndyCar reputation, certainly more so than his son Marco. As for the supposed curse, the fifty two year old Andretti has won the Indianapolis 500 as an owner, but never did in sixteen starts as a driver.

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Despite his ownership success, including championships at Andretti Autosport and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 500 victory last May, since then our concern has grown for Mario’s eldest and most famous son. Due to some highly dubious recent statements and actions we feel compelled to ask, what on earth is Michael Andretti thinking?

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Take a look at his decisions following that multi million dollar day in late May and you’ll understand – Michael’s been totally out to lunch in what’s become an increasingly troubling situation. Last week according to foxports.com Andretti said he “will still run” Kurt Busch in next year’s Indy 500, despite the unseemly domestic violence charges being adjudicated against him.

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He continued to call himself a “big supporter” of the NA$CAR n’er-do-well who’s currently in court due to his ex’s allegations he beat her. It wouldn’t be the first violent outburst of Busch’s stupefying career as he’s been involved in many a nasty scrape, though usually against men.

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Bad boy Busch’s bullying behavior has been a problem for taxicab racing for years now, so with his latest case still ongoing in the judicial system why commit to giving him – or his regular series – center stage during IndyCar’s grandest event? Why invite the controversy, bad press and cloud of criminal allegations to the 500, which as Andretti knows needs all the positive coverage it can get?

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Furthermore why reward such unacceptable behavior on Busch’s part? It simply makes no sense, particularly with plenty of other driving talent available and desiring to drive for the team at the Speedway. Michael should know this. He used to at least act as though he cared about the sport’s most important race.

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Prior to that inexplicable show of continued support for Busch, for some reason Michael released the likable chuckling Canuck James Hinchcliffe, who’s done nothing criminal and incidentally won more big league races in one year at AA than Marco’s won in nine.

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While Hinch admittedly was off last year with only a third place finish and three top fives, his 2013 campaign was impressive with three wins and three top fives. It’s reminiscent of Buddy Ryan’s firing by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1991 and makes about as much sense. As Buddy said, he was “fired for winning.”

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As if Michael’s embarrassing stint on Celebrity Apprentice a few years ago wasn’t bad enough, have you seen his sprawling mansion featured on yet another television show? Talk about showy, the word ostentatious doesn’t quite describe it. That’s not to mention “Andretti TV,” whatever that is.

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We’ll not dwell on his tumultuous marital history either, other than to point out that his third and current wife Jodi Ann Paterson was Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 2000 and is young enough to be his daughter. We never said Michael makes mistakes in every case.

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But the team has been in some trouble lately and rapidly slowing on track, if you will. The latest rumors have Michael considering F-1 reject Kevin Magnussen as a replacement for Hinch in the still pending fourth car.

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Really, another Euro wash up is the best Andretti can do?! It appears to be either Magnussen or else the team may contract to three cars for the first time in over a decade, a distinct and disconcerting possibility.

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Signed to drive for AA along with Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz is Marco who, despite numerous trips all around the world to aid his driving abilities, has only regressed in the three years since his second series win.

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Most tellingly, Michael’s longtime racing right hand Kyle Moyer abandoned him for Team Penske last week, perhaps put off by Michael’s alarmingly erratic moves as of late. We wonder if his replacement Rob Edwards knows what he’s signed up for as Andretti’s new team director.

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So out of sympathy for the famous former face of IndyCar again we worryingly ask, what’s the inimitable Italian-American thinking? Is the Andretti curse taking a very weird turn for Michael? Or is it all just a super-prolonged European-style mid-life crisis he’s enduring?

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Remember his ill-fated Indy 500 come-back several years ago? In retrospect, perhaps that was an exceptionally public cry for help, though at least he didn’t send his car airborne down the back straight like Mario did. Help must be extended to the off the wall team owner before it’s too late and he ruins his team and tarnishes his family name. That is, unless Marco beats him to it.

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