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 DEARBORN, Mich., May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Racing great Mario Andretti

emerged on the American IndyCar racing scene in 1965 with a flair and a Ford -- making an immediate and impressive impact. He turned in a third-place performance at the Indianapolis 500, driving more like a veteran than the rookie IndyCar driver he was.
 To have won the event as a rookie at the Brickyard would have been incredible. Yet his actual accomplishments throughout his illustrious career have been scarcely less amazing.
 Andretti was at the Indy 500 in 1964, but only as a sprint car driver hanging around Gasoline Alley, hoping to make contacts for a ride in racing's greatest spectacle. There he was introduced to crew chief Clint Brawner. While Brawner did not take to Andretti at first, he did see Andretti drive about one month later, at a sprint car race in Terre Haute, Ind. Brawner was looking for a new pilot to replace Chuck Hulse, who, ironically, had been injured in a sprint car race just before the '64 Indy 500. Andretti got his chance and the rest is history.
 His first IndyCar win was the Hoosier Grand Prix (Indianapolis 150) on July 25, 1965. Although he didn't win the Indy 500 as a rookie, Andretti drove with consistency in 1965 to capture the IndyCar driver's championship his very first year, then added another driver's championship in 1966.
 In 1966, Andretti won eight races, seven of those with a Ford powerplant -- including all three races in June: the Milwaukee 100, the Langhorne 100 and the Atlanta 300. He also won three of the last four events of the 1966 IndyCar season -- the Indianapolis 100, Trenton 200 and the Phoenix 200.
 He won seven more races for Ford in 1967, including four straight wins in July and August. Andretti grabbed two wins powered by a Ford in 1968, then won his first Indianapolis 500 in 1969, capturing his third driver's championship with a total of six Ford-powered wins. That championship helped secure the title of "ABC Television Sportsman of the Year" and caused his hometown of Nazareth, Pa., to change the name of its Market Street to Victory Lane.
 "Well, I credit Ford with giving me probably the greatest opportunity of my career," Andretti said. "I guess we really started it all in the mid-'60s at Indy, then with the Mark IIs, Mark IVs and GT40s. That Ford program was a great time for me."
 Andretti has won 24 IndyCar races with a Ford powerplant, almost half his total career wins. He also won with a Ford Fairlane in the 1967 Daytona 500, and became the first driver to win both major 500-mile races when he won the Indianapolis 500 in 1969. Andretti is one of two drivers to have won the IndyCar and Formula One championships (the other is Emerson Fittipaldi), and the only driver to do so powered by Ford. Heading into the 1992 season, he was second in all-time IndyCar victories with 51.
 Andretti concentrated on the Formula One circuit in the late 1970s, taking a total of 12 wins. He won four races in 1977, then won the Grands Prix of Argentina, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands in 1978 to win the World Championship, driving a Lotus powered by the Ford-Cosworth DFV.
 Andretti's first IndyCar win associated with Cosworth Engineering came in 1978, at the Trenton 150. He went on to win a total of 15 IndyCar races with the power of a Cosworth engine, including six races in 1984 and three of the first four races of 1985.
 Known for his diverse driving abilities, Andretti has raced and won in USAC sprint cars, midgets, stock cars and dirt cars. He even tried drag racing, where he won at Hartford in 1968 in a Ford Mustang.
 "There's no question about it," Andretti said. "I look at it as a good omen to be affiliated with the Ford and Cosworth effort again. I think, going into the season, we have some strong competition to deal with, but that's what will make it all worthwhile."
 -0- 5/5/92
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos are available of Mario Andretti driving the 1969 Ford-powered car (with which he won the Indy 500) and the 1992 Ford-Cosworth/Lola by calling CONTACT listed below./
 /CONTACT: Kevin Kennedy or Todd Goyer of Campbell & Co., 313-336-0244 or 317-299-5327, for Ford Motor Company/
 (F) CO: Ford Motor Company; Indianapolis 500 ST: Michigan, Indiana IN: AUT SU:

SM -- NYIFNS7 -- 6324 05/05/92 07:18 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 5, 1992

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