INDIANAPOLIS—With the Izod logo emblazoned across his red and white racing suit, he put in the earplugs and the hood towards the front of the starting grid of the Indianapolis 500.
The helmet was next for Michael Andretti, as he put it over his head and stepped into his seat in his car and nestled himself in. After a little help with the seat belts and the steering wheel, the driver was ready to take off on the parade lap.
No, the hard luck Indianapolis driver wasn't in the field, he was just making a celebrity feel like it.
"I really didn't want to come in," said Andretti, who took actor Mark Wahlberg around the track in a two seater IndyCar in front of the field on the parade lap, and then raced around to bring up the back of the 33 drivers till the start of the race.
While it gave the 16-time Indianapolis 500 qualifier a chance to join the field for a few laps, it did cause an a bit of a rush once it came to an end. As the head of Andretti Autosport, Michael needed to quickly get out of his race suit and into his son Marco's pit.
The new two seater tradition-which will continue throughout the 2010 Izod IndyCar series-caused the car owner to play a little bit of catchup Sunday afternoon.
"It was no big deal because I wasn't calling any race," said Andretti of having to miss a bit of the race. "It was pretty cool to be able to go in and do that."
Tony Kanaan wouldn't say the same about making up ground, since he started the pit some 300 yards away from Andretti's in the second to last pit on north side of the track. A poor qualifying performance left one of the favorites for the month having to climb through most of the field to have a chance to win.
The crowd favorite said early in the week that he thought that passing cars was possible for what he considered to be a strong car in the race.
"It was consistent, I don't think it was the fastest car out there," said Kanaan of the car, which quickly climbed into the top 20.
Kanaan would twice get the car as high as second on the scoring pylon, only to get caught in the fuel mileage trap that took down many of the front runners on Sunday. With four laps to go the No. 11 car was forced to come in for a splash a fuel and ended the day 11th.
"I support my guys, we took a gamble," said Kanaan of the stop. "In a fuel strategy race, which I'm not a big fan of, it could have gone either way."