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Jarrett Andretti to fulfill father’s wish to race at Indy

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Jarrett Andretti will fulfill his father’s wish to see him race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he becomes the seventh Andretti to race at the venerable track in his Indy Lights debut next month.

Andretti is a third-generation racer from one of the most famous racing families in the world. His father, John, is Mario Andretti’s nephew and Aldo Anderetti’s son. John Andretti and Michael Andretti are first cousins, and Jarrett Andretti will race at Indy for Andretti Autosport.

He will be the third Andretti entry in the Freedom 100, scheduled for “Carb Day,” two days before the Indianapolis 500 on May 26. It is traditionally one of the most exciting events at the historic speedway.

“It’s very important for me, personally; me and John are very, very close, we’ve been close our whole lives, growing up together,” said team owner Michael Andretti, who is Jarrett’s godfather. “To help bring one of his dreams come true is very satisfying He’s always had a dream to see his son drive for Indy and I am glad we are making it a reality this year,”

Jarrett Andretti, at 26, is the youngest current racer in the family dynasty. He has won championships in karts, a USAC midget series and was an Indiana Sprint Car Series champion.

His father announced last month that his Stage 4 colon cancer had returned. The former NASCAR and IndyCar driver was first diagnosed in April 2017 and launched an awareness campaign urging colonoscopies.

Jarrett Andretti said his father has remained heavily involved in his racing — Michael Andretti joked John is at the team shop more than the team owner — and traveled with him to sprint car races last weekend.

“He’s doing pretty well right now … he’s up until 3 in the morning and I can’t get him to stop,” Jarrett Andretti said. “He’s obviously going to go through chemo again and treatment, but I’ve never let it see him affect him. We built our sprint car team together, hand in hand, and just us going to races together and him working on the car and me racing them. He lived with me in the summers for four or five months and we did everything together.”

Jarrett currently drives Andretti Autosport’s entry in Pirelli GT4 America and will do rookie orientation for the race April 18 at Kentucky Speedway. The other Andrettis who have already raced at Indy are his father, great uncle Mario, uncle Adam and cousins Michael, Jeff and Marco. His grandfather, Aldo, drove on the track at Indy but did not race.

John Andretti in 1994 was the first driver to attempt “the double” of racing the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon, and Kurt Busch have since done both races, and Stewart did it twice.