Jarett Andretti feels that his recent promotion to the Pirelli GT4 America Pro ranks validates both his own growth and the early success of the Andretti Autosport program.
The third-generation racer made the step up to GT4 this season after competing in the TC America TCR category and arrived with modest goals.
Andretti debuted in the Am class as he continued his transition to road racing after focusing primarily on dirt oval racing for much of his early career.
He quickly proved to be on the pace with series newcomer Andretti Autosport’s new McLaren 570S GT4 and had strong showings at VIR and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
After the CTMP weekend, which included Am-class wins in both the single-driver Sprint and two-driver SprintX formats, Andretti had a sense that a promotion was incoming.
“We came into the season hoping to make it a difficult decision,” he told Sportscar365.
“You try to run as good as possible and hopefully you’re running up there with all the guys that have more experience than you.
“Luckily we were able to do that, especially in the Sprint races. You lose your points, unfortunately, so there are some negatives to it, but I think you made them make a tough decision which means you’re running good.
“At VIR when we had that issue in the race, but we had led the whole race before that. After that at [CTMP] we had an issue and probably had a shot to win the race.
“I think after that, I was jetting out of there because I needed to get to Indy [for the Freedom 100], and [GT4 Class Manager] Jack Baldwin came rolling up and was talking to me.
“I got some indication after those races that it may not be long.”
The promotion came for the round after CTMP at Sonoma Raceway, and while the ultimate pace eluded his team in California, Andretti said he was pleased with its ability to bank solid results even on a tough weekend.
Sonoma saw Andretti and his SprintX co-driver Colin Mullan score an overall podium in Race 2, as well as a fourth-place finish in the preceding race.
It has the 26-year-old entering this weekend’s SprintX round at Portland with a sense of confidence in both himself and the team.
“I think it’s been a really good season, especially since it’s a brand new team,” he said.
“At this time last year, all these guys had cars and trucks and trailers, and this time last year I was driving a TCR car.
“We didn’t have a car, we didn’t have a wheel, or anything. Building that from scratch with Robin [Pemberton], that stuff’s important. It’s all coming along nicely.
“The cars are good. They’re reliable. McLaren’s doing a good job as well, so I think it’s been a lot of fun.”
New Categories on Andretti’s Wishlist
Andretti has an interest in sticking with GT4 next year alongside his ongoing dirt track commitments, but is also keen to follow the family tradition of sampling as many different race cars as he can.
“I like the GT4 stuff, I’d like to continue to do that,” he said. “I’d like to drive some GT3 stuff, obviously, that would be fun. We’ve looked at some LMP3 stuff as well.
“I just think doing something with some more downforce, some more power, would be a lot of fun. They look like intriguing cars. You just never know where it might take you.
“You just start talking to people, and that’s how this deal came about. You start talking to people and see how it shakes out.
“The sprint car stuff takes up a lot of time as well. We’ll piece together the schedule as we go next year.”