Do good things always come in threes? Evidently, Michael Andretti doesn’t believe so.
How will the signing of EJ Viso affect the chemistry of the team in 2013? The young outstanding trio of Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, and Marco Andretti has shown it can perform consistently on all types of venues. More importantly, they showed last season that they could win.
With Hunter-Reay giving Michael his fourth Series championship, he is the unquestioned leader of the team. Hinchcliffe continues to ooze with potential, and many expect him to find victory lane more than once this season. There are plenty of doubters who see Marco as an underachiever, but there is no denying that he is fast. He is always a contender on the ovals, and especially in May when the biggest spotlight in the racing world shines down on Indianapolis.
While Ryan and Marco seemed to have contrasting success in 2012, there is no doubt that the chemistry between the three drivers has been fantastic. The emergence of Ryan as a leader, and the on-track talent upgrade in the GoDaddy car, lifted the team to new heights. Not only were these three guys teammates, but they were also good friends who enjoyed hanging out with each other. They just seemed to click, which proved to be a recipe for success.
Now, enter EJ Viso, a 28-year old veteran who has a reputation for finding the wall. Though he has yet to win a race, he is just as confident in his abilities as every other driver in the field. Andretti Autosport will be his third IndyCar team and arguably his best chance at finding victory lane for the first time in his 82-race career.
Many people are wondering what exactly Viso will bring to the team. First, we should acknowledge that EJ brings a lot of money with him, which obviously helps with many things. The jokes have already begun about how that money will likely be used to pay the repair costs to his cars. All jokes aside, we know that money talks, especially in IndyCar. His best finish at Indy is 12th, which came last year. His driving has improved, and last season he took better care of his car and showed more patience with other drivers.
We should also take note that, with five cars at Indianapolis, there will be plenty of data to share in the Andretti camp. In late January, the team announced it will field Carlos Muñoz in one of their machines. Running five cars at Indianapolis has produced mixed results for Michael’s team over the years. Despite qualifying well last year, only one of their five cars (Hinchcliffe) finished better than 23rd.
Still, the other three attempts went much better. In 2010, Marco was 3rd, Danica 6th, Kanaan 11th, Hunter-Reay 18th, and John Andretti 30th. 2006 was bittersweet with Marco losing the race in the final hundred yards. Still, he and his father were 2nd and 3rd, while Kanaan and Dario were 5th and 7th. Bryan Herta rolled home in 20th position.
Their best year, though, was the following year, when Dario won the race in 2007. Danica was 8th, and Kanaan and Michael came home 12th and 13th. Marco finished 24th after a strong day ended with him on his roof.
In the end though, will this addition help or hurt the team that won last year’s championship?
The answer to that question depends on the actions of EJ himself. If he knows his role and wants to help in any way possible, the team could see great success. They will no doubt be favorites at Indianapolis given their speed last year.
However, if Viso tries to be the alpha male, it could make Michael regret signing him. The chemistry is top priority, and it’s too valuable to mess with.
Michael has already made the decision to add him, but it’s now up to Viso to decide if the team can duplicate last season’s success.