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Q&A with IndyCar promoter Michael Andretti

8.20.2012 (Via baltimoresun.com) – With the Grand Prix of Baltimore two weeks away, the race's promoter and owner of three cars competing in the IndyCar Series this year, Michael Andretti, was in town recently and sat down for a conversation that ranged from the upcoming event through the streets of the city to current issues in racing.

When it comes to Baltimore, Andretti is still learning about the city, but he did offer insight into how Andretti Sports Marketing has cut thousands of dollars from last year's expenses.

Andretti also shared his thoughts on the debate about penalties for unapproved engine changes in the series and IndyCar chief executive officer Randy Bernard's comments last month about potential adjustments to the rule. The current IndyCar penalty at each race for an unapproved engine change is 10 starting spots in the lineup.

The IndyCar Series will race on a road course at Sonoma, Calif., next Sunday before arriving in Baltimore for the Sept. 2 street race.

Why did you decide to become involved in the Grand Prix here?

I was asked to look at it. J.P. [Grant, a partner in Race On LLC] called me out of the blue, because there was a chance the race wasn't going to happen. For me, being a team owner, I just felt the loss of this race would be a huge loss for the series because this race was such a huge event. It was one of the biggest highlights of the year last year. And I think it would have been a huge loss for the series for this race to go away. So that's what motivated me to get involved. … IndyCar racing is my life.

Did you know Grant before he called you?

No, not at all. I guess he's friends with [car owner] Chip Ganassi. J.P. called Chip and asked if he had any ideas for anybody who could help out with the race and Chip gave him my name and number and J.P. called me. And that's how it all started.

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