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Penske to put Montoya back in NASCAR? Juan Pablo Montoya is a full-fledged IndyCar Series driver again, but his stock car racing days may not be done.
Montoya has ran the last seven seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, netting a meager two wins (both on road courses) in 253 starts. After winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and then moving on to a solid career in Formula One from 2001-2006, the Colombian’s Cup tenure was largely mediocre.
However, comments from Penske Racing president Tim Cindric during Montoya’s test session today at Sebring International Raceway have brought up the possibility that we could see Montoya in a car with fenders again down the road.
Don't hold your breath for an IndyCar race in Austin Question: You said you think IndyCar will be at COTA in 2015. I thought F1 and IndyCar avoided the same tracks in the same year to avoid comparisons. Also, isn’t Bernie Ecclestone famously defensive of F1’s turf? (Jim, East Granby, Conn.)
Answer #1 (Curt Cavin, Indy Star): I haven’t seen the contract, but I’m told COTA can have an IndyCar race if it wants one.
Answer #2 (Mark Cipolloni, AR1.com): With the massive grandstands built in Austin for the F1 crowd, why does IndyCar want to embarrass itself racing in front of 75% empty seats? Besides, although it may have been missed in the contract, it will be a cold day in hell before Bernie allows IndyCar to race in Austin. CART tried that in Montreal. It started out a big success the first year, until things happened behind the scenes that ensured the race failed thereafter. Ecclestone is very protective not to allow any racing at the same track that might diminish F1 ticket and hospitality sales. Remember the rules Bernie got the FIA to pass over the years to hinder CART stepping on F1s turf?
Perez to Force India in 2014 (3rd Update)UPDATE #3 The McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, has expressed his happiness that Sergio Perez is set to remain in Formula One in 2014.
Perez was dropped by Whitmarsh less than a fortnight ago after one year at McLaren but the Mexican is expected to drive for Force India next season. It appears likely Perez will be partnered by Nico Hülkenberg, who has reportedly been re-hired by the Silverstone-based team after he quit them a year ago to join Sauber. Assuming both deals are confirmed, Force India drivers Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil will face an uncertain future in the sport.
Dennis tried to thwart Hamilton switch - report (GMM) McLaren 'supremo' Ron Dennis went to extraordinary lengths in an attempt to thwart Lewis Hamilton's switch to Mercedes for 2013, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
Dennis, who groomed Hamilton from boyhood to F1 stardom, fell out badly with the 2008 world champion as the British driver toyed with leaving McLaren mid last year.
The Daily Mail on Saturday claims Dennis flew to Stuttgart last year to meet with Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche, where they discussed reports in British tabloid newspapers in July about Hamilton partying with 10 women in London.
Who will replace Dario Franchitti? (6th Update)UPDATE #6 "I wouldn't rule out anything. I've openly said I would discuss it with Dario," said Paul di Resta. "At this point, I'm still in the running for the seat here [at Force India], at least I would certainly like to think I am. There are obviously a few other options with interest.
"The primary objective for me is to stay in Formula 1. But more importantly, it's to stay driving because I've got a lot to offer. I'm still young, I've got plenty of fire left in me. I've won championships and I hope I'll continue to win races."
11/19/13 Paul di Resta’s future with Force India in Formula One is far from certain, the Scot may have to shift his focus stateside to IndyCar.
The cousin of now retired star Dario Franchitti, di Resta admittedin an interview with The Guardian in the UK that IndyCar needs to be taken seriously as an option.
“I’ve always been slightly concerned about the safety of it [IndyCar], but sitting down and looking at it logically, it’s a serious option to look elsewhere because of the success he has had,” he said.
NASCAR looking for international expansion NASCAR Senior VP/Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell said that the sanctioning body "turned down opportunities to bring one of its national series" to Singapore, Malaysia and Russia, according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. O'Donnell: "We've had 20 groups approach us from China. But most of them are one-offs. We keep pushing back and saying we're going to do this but in a smart way."
He added that Brazil, Japan and Russia are "viewed as the most enticing for building new series." Ryan notes NASCAR is expanding its int'l media rights "with new Fox and NBC deals" beginning in '15. The hope is that "foreign drivers will begin gravitating toward aiming at the Sprint Cup Series instead of open-wheel Formula One."
Charles Pic - Is his check to small to stay in F1?
Charles Pic has expressed doubt over his Formula 1 future, admitting that although he would like to remain at Caterham, a contract extension is far from guaranteed. If his check is not big enough, it should be big enough to buy a ride in IndyCar instead.
The Frenchman, 23, joined the Leafield-based outfit on a 'multi-year' deal at the end of last season, having impressed during his debut campaign with Marussia. But with Heikki Kovalainen vying for a full-time return, he says his plans are still unsettled.
Speaking in Thursday's press conference ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Pic explained: "For next year, the logic for me would be to stay at Caterham but it's not sure. I think there are still many seats available for next year, so we will see."
Filippi to drive for BHA (Update)UPDATE Luca Filippi, who starred in his cameo appearances for Bryan Herta Autosport/Barracuda Racing this year, is close to a full-time deal with the team for 2014 per multiple sources. The Italian made an incredible and indelible impression on the team at Mid-Ohio, Baltimore and Houston. He's at the USGP this weekend doing TV work with English broadcaster Sky Sports. NBC Sports
Look for BHA to giver Luca Filippi another look
Luca Filippi appears set to get more opportunities with Team Barracuda/Bryan Herta Autosport before the end of 2013 as the team works to evaluate drivers for a possible two-car operation next year.
The Italian impressed the team with both his pace and his composure during his debut outing at Mid-Ohio last weekend, and team owner Bryan Herta said that he hopes to be able to give the 27-year-old another weekend in the car.
"We've talked to a number of drivers, but the list of guys under serious consideration is very short," Herta told Racer.com. "We may run another driver at a couple of races this year, but Luca has done enough that we would definitely like to see him back again."
Now Maldonado knows how Michael Andretti was sabotaged (Update)UPDATE Deputy team chief Claire Williams on Saturday rejected all insinuations of sabotage made by want-away driver Pastor Maldonado against the British Formula One team.
Venezuelan Maldonado had suggested his poor performance in qualifying at the United States Grand Prix was the result of "dirty tricks" including altering tire pressures and temperatures.
He told reporters: "I think in my car somebody is playing with the pressure and the temperatures."
Competition changes likely coming for IndyCar There’s been a large contingent of IndyCar personnel on the ground here at Circuit of the Americas this weekend, whether drivers or competition personnel. Chief among them is the series’ president of competition and operations, Derrick Walker.
Walker is here, working with FIA officials in meetings regarding potential safety and other competition-related improvements that could come to IndyCar in 2014.
Additionally, he confirmed that changes are likely coming to IndyCar’s competition personnel.
Penske to announce Montoya IndyCar sponsor Rumor has it that on Thursday that Penske Racing is due for a primary sponsorship announcement in the coming days, after Nov. 18. The team’s new third driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, will make his final NASCAR start for Chip Ganassi Racing this Sunday in Homestead.
Kovalainen full-time for Caterham in 2014 (GMM) He may be racing a black and gold car for the rest of 2013, but Heikki Kovalainen on Thursday played down suggestions he could be in the running to replace Kimi Raikkonen permanently.
The Finn has been drafted into Lotus' 2013 lineup for Austin and Brazil after his Ferrari-bound countryman Raikkonen opted for early back surgery.
After Nico Hulkenberg said no, reportedly also considered for the two-race job was Michael Schumacher.
McLaren to replace Perez with Magnussen (5th Update)UPDATE #5 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news.
11/12/13 (GMM) Martin Whitmarsh has not denied mounting speculation that Sergio Perez will be ousted by McLaren after Brazil's 2013 season finale.
Team sources are being cited by a growing number of authoritative publications as having revealed that Mexican Perez will be replaced by the McLaren-backed youngster and new Formula Renault 3.5 champion, Kevin Magnussen.
"Lots of people are being considered," team boss Whitmarsh, when asked about the rumors, said during the regular Vodafone teleconference on Monday.
Popular NASCAR veterans could all end their racing careers this weekend
Labonte: Hanging it up
Bobby Labonte drove his last race of the year – and perhaps his career – last Sunday at the Phoenix International Raceway. Will Jeff Burton, Mark Martin and Ken Schrader do the same this Sunday?
Schrader, 58, already said the Ford EcoBoost 400 will be his last NASCAR race. Martin, 54, still refuses to use the word “retirement,” but he admits he’s about to take a new direction in his career as a research, development driver and mentor at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Lotus to announce Kovalainen as Raikkonen replacement (Update)UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' based on AR1.com inside information. We await the announcement. But this is only for two races this year.
Kovalainen back to a full-time ride
(GMM) Lotus is poised to announce Heikki Kovalainen as the replacement for his surgery-bound countryman Kimi Raikkonen for the last two races of 2013.
It emerged earlier that the Enstone based team, despite having last year's GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi as its reserve driver, had made an offer to Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg.
Hulkenberg turned it down, but it was a clear sign that Italian Valsecchi was not in fact the obvious favorite for the role, as Lotus tries desperately to improve its position in the lucrative constructors' championship despite Raikkonen's exit.
Korean tire maker Kumho eyes F1 (Update)UPDATE Kumho Tires has given further confirmation of its long term aspiration to create a tire for the pinnacle of motor sport, after completing a full-scale three-day test of its prototype F1 spec tires at the Catalunya circuit near Barcelona.
The Kumho tests were carried out using an Auto GP car with a range of drivers including former F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan, Auto GP frontrunner Kevin Giovesi and Sung Hak Moon, the first Korean to drive in Formula 2 and who is considered Korea's fastest racer and best hope of making it to F1.
The tests were part of an ongoing research and development program for Kumho which started with the production of its first F1 spec tire in 2007.
A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Is there nothing these people won't try to ruin? How about sending out a survey to the ticket holders of the 500. A few questions to the people that in the end pay the bills. Should we stand on tradition that brings back people year after year? The race is a hundred years old. People look forward to the pilgrimage to Indianapolis every year because of the traditions they enjoy. The Indianapolis is sewn in the fabric of America.
What will be next, Jim Nabors gone, sorry military your out, the list goes on and on. Mr. Miles lets see if they will cover the grass courts at Wimbledon with asphalt, maybe you understand that tradition. The management at IndyCar and IMS have tried to trash everything else about the sport we love, can't you leave the 500 alone.
Mr. Hulman gave you the blueprint for the most successful single day sporting event in the world, don't screw it up. If they change the format at Indianapolis I will be convinced they all work for the France family, nobody can make this many bad business decisions. Regards, Jerry M. Topeka, KS
If Bernie floats F1 he and CVC stand to make a lot of money
F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that he has promised a 1% stake in F1's parent company to the sport's governing body, FIA, "in return for it signing a new commercial agreement" until the end of '20, according to Christian Sylt of the London GUARDIAN. The sport's 11 teams were already signed up to the end of '20, "so getting a commitment from the governing body paves the way for F1's long-awaited stock market flotation."
Ecclestone said, "The FIA gets 1% if F1 floats but the teams don't have shares." The largest F1 shareholder, private equity firm CVC, has put a $12B valuation on F1, "but the float has been stalled by the lack of agreement from the FIA and legal hurdles."
Legal wrangles "are not the only reason that a float of F1 has not got the green light." It was due to take place on the Singapore stock exchange in June last year, "but CVC halted it because of the eurozone crisis." GUARDIAN
Allgaier and Addington to team up in 2014? Jayski rumors that Justin Allgaier will move up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to run full time in the #51 Chevy owned by Harry Scott and run for 2014 Rookie of the Year. Been told that Steve Addington will move from the #14 Stewart Haas Racing team and be Allgaier's crew chief. Current #1 crew chief, Kevin Manion will likely move from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing to be the Competition Director at Turner Scott Motorsports.
Audi to shun dumbed down USCR and IndyCar? (Update)UPDATE Per this announcement Audi will compete the France Family owned United Sports Car Racing Series. However, the rumors of Audi coming to IndyCar are now pretty much over. Why? The Hulman George family chooses to keep collecting the NBC Sports Network check instead of putting all races on ABC.......so sponsors are bailing and new engine manufacturers have no interest. The family then has to prop the teams up using the NBC money by funneling it through the Leader Card program. This ensures the series stays weak and never proper’s.
07/02/13 According to Audi Sport boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, sports car racing's biggest spender has yet to decide if it will compete at the highest level in North America next year.
With the deletion of the LMP1 category from the new United SportsCar Racing championship, the 12-time overall winners at the 24 Hours of Le Mans are currently left without a series to showcase its prototypes in our market – at least one that allows the German marque to use a prototype that's currently in its inventory. And, coupled with the recent split between Audi and its R&D chief Wolfgang Durheimer, who set the strategy for the company's motorsport plans, many of the grand ambitions held by Durheimer within the American market have been put on hold.
Maldonado exit opens Williams door for Massa (5th Update)UPDATE #5
Felipe Massa confirmed by Williams
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Williams have confirmed Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will drive for the team during the 2014 Formula One season, leaving Pastor Maldonado currently without a seat.
Sir Frank Williams said “We are delighted to be able to confirm our 2014 driver line-up and welcome Felipe into the Williams family. He is an exceptional talent and a real fighter on the race track; he also brings a wealth of experience as we begin a new chapter in our story. Valtteri is a valued member of the team and I’m pleased he was able to demonstrate his talent in tricky conditions in Montréal. There is much more to come from him.”
Felipe Massa added “Williams is one of the most successful and important teams of all time in Formula One. When I was a kid, I always dreamed about racing for Williams, Ferrari or McLaren and I’m glad to be signing with another icon of the sport following my time at Ferrari. It is also nice to remember that some of the best Brazilian drivers raced for Williams and cemented a strong national link with the team. With such a major change of regulations in 2014, I hope my experience will be useful in helping the team in its effort to move on from a difficult period. Since my early days in motor racing, I don’t remember seeing so many new rules in a single season and I’m fully prepared to work with everyone at Grove to make sure we find the right direction. I’m highly motivated to start working hard from the very beginning in what is an exciting new challenge in my career.”
Martin's racing career may be over after Homestead
Mark Martin's legendary racing career may be over after next week. While he wouldn't use the "retirement" word Friday while talking with reporters he says the word has burned him in the past Martin strongly hinted he would not race in 2014 and beyond. Martin said he made the decision not to race in January and has kept it between his friends and family. When he finished third in February's Daytona 500, he said he was pleased knowing it would be his last one. "It's time for me to open a new chapter," Martin said during a 24-minute interview Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. Martin will do testing next season for Stewart-Haas Racing, where he currently drives. He will test Tony Stewart's No. 14 car in January at Daytona, then attend most or all of SHR's tests in 2014 to provide feedback or a second opinion. USA Today
F1 teams expect 2014 calendar to be trimmed - NJ and Mexico dropped (3rd Update)UPDATE #3 Not far from the Lincoln Tunnel with the spectacular Manhattan skyline and Hudson River filling the background, the ‘Grand Prix of America’ on the shores of New Jersey along its town’s streets, made the Formula One (F1) calendar for 2014. However, according to sources, that pesky asterisk was there for a reason and low-and-behold, the on-again off-again event won’t make the official F1 schedule after all. As they say on either side of the Hudson: ‘Fugetaboutit’.
There was talk less than a month ago that this event would take place on June 1st of 2014, although it was a ‘provisional’ date. Still, having paid F1 a registration fee to make sure they had a date on next year’s calendar appeared to put a positive spin on whether this race would happen or not. Construction was taking place (Port Imperial) and even a week ago, the announcers on NBC Sports speculated that indeed next year’s Grand Prix of America would proceed as planned.
More gimmicks coming for the Indy 500 (Update)UPDATE
A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, What other gimmicks will they think of next to cover up the damage done by Tony George's 'vision' for IndyCar Racing? I have attached a photo for you that I believe sums up the situation perfectly - it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA.
11/08/13 Look for more big changes during the 2014 Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hulman & Co. Chief Executive Officer Mark Miles tells Inside Indiana Business the qualifying format for the Indianapolis 500 will undergo major revisions. He says plans call for 33 provisional qualifiers on the first day of competition, then two sessions on Sunday to set the field. Milles will detail the planned changes this weekend on Inside Indiana Business Television.
Kyle Petty / Terry Labonte candidates for U.S. Congress? According to an article on RollCall.com, former NASCAR driver and now Fox Sports TV analyst Kyle Petty [also mentions Terry Labonte as a candidate] could be a candidate for U.S. Congress in 2014 in North Carolina. The district would be the one currently represented in North Carolina by Republican Howard Coble, who announced Thursday this would be his last term. Charlotte Observer
Hulman & Company To Fill Vacancies Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star is reporting that Hulman & Co., will fill two high level vacancies in their commercial department as soon as this week.
Jay Frye, who has held management positions for numerous NASCAR teams, is expected to be named chief sales officer of Hulman Racing. C.J. O'Donnell, a longtime Ford marketing executive, is expected to be named chief marketing officer.
IndyCar Engine Shuffle With the rumor that 2013 Indy Lights Champion Sage Karam is nearing a deal with Sam Schmidt's team for next year, as reported yesterday by AutoRacing1.com, we are beginning to wonder how the engine lease musical chairs will shake out in IndyCar. If Karam goes to Schmidt, that would mean 2 Schmidt cars, 4 Andretti cars (with a possible fifth) are already earmarked for Honda. Presuming Rahal Letterman Lanigan and Dale Coyne also have 2, in addition to one car each for Barracuda Racing and Aj Foyt enterprises that brings the number to 12.
And considering Honda has been very vocal about its unwillingness to go above 12 leases, you have to imagine that at least one other of 2013's Honda teams will join Chip Ganassi Racing in switching to Chevrolet. This number could be more if Andretti runs a fifth car.
Could F1 "one day be less profitable than it is today?" -- this currently seems "unlikely," but F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone is "continuously looking for new business models," according to Gabriele Cagliani of Expansion. Ecclestone's latest idea is "inspired by the business model used in tennis tournaments, and the reason is simple."
Ecclestone believes F1 is "running the risk of ending up in the same situation as football, where in La Liga only three or four teams have a chance to win the league." That would be a "nightmare for F1," which earns €500M ($675M) from TV rights. Ecclestone believes that F1 should adapt "the model used in tennis, where not all tournaments are worth the same number of points, which creates added suspense."
NAPA Could Join Truex Jr. at FRR Martin Truex Jr. commented about NAPA sponsorship during a Team Chevy press conference on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway:
Q) HAS NAPA LEFT THE DOOR OPEN TO ANY FUTURE DISCUSSIONS OF POSSIBLY COMING BACK WITH YOU IN YEARS TO COME?
TRUEX: "I think that really at this point anything is possible. We have got a lot of great partners that we have worked with over the years. That I've worked with personally that have shown interest in the program that we are going to put together. Yeah, I can't really say much right now about it, I'm not sure, but they have been great supporters of mine the last four years. Hopefully we will be able to do something together. We have got a lot of great partners that are interested in the program and hopefully moving forward we will be able to put some things together with them." Team Chevy
Williams to get Brawn? Sir Frank Williams has told Sky Sports F1 he will contact Ross Brawn about rejoining his outfit if the Mercedes Team Principal is available.
The 58-year-old is expected to leave the Silver Arrows at the end of the season with the team's Executive Directors, Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe, taking over his role.
Although Mercedes' non-Executive Chairman Niki Lauda has voiced his determination to keep Brawn, the Englishman is known to be unhappy with the lack of a clearly-defined management structure in the team which has been on an aggressive recruitment drive over the last couple of years.
Hornish Could Have Title but No Ride at Season’s End
No. 12 San Hornish Jr. struggles in NASCAR. Not good enough on the road courses of IndyCar, Hornish was forced to seek a career in NASCAR
Sam Hornish Jr. can still win the 2013 Nationwide Series championship but what happens after that is anyone’s guess.
Hornish chopped two points off Austin Dillon’s lead with two races remaining in the season following his third place finish Saturday afternoon at Texas. Heading to Phoenix, where he won in November of 2011 for his first career win, he’s now six markers behind Dillon.
“We did what we could do. We took care of ourselves. We had a decent run. We came back when it didn’t look like we would gain points for quite a bit of the race,” Hornish said.
Sato to re-sign with Foyt Expect no surprises from A.J. Foyt Racing for the 2014 IndyCar season, team manager Larry Foyt told Autoweek on Friday. Foyt said the team is in the final stages of re-signing driver Takuma Sato and that the team has a verbal agreement to continue with Honda Performance Development for its engines.
Sato’s situation has been publicly questioned given the way the recently completed season ended. The famed No. 14 car failed to finish any of the final five races and nine of the final 10. Some of the instances were of Sato’s doing, including running into Ryan Hunter-Reay on pit road at Pocono Raceway in July; others were not. Five of the retirements were listed as mechanical.
But Foyt said the plan has always been to bring Sato back. “We’re just trying to finalize the last details,” he said.
There has been much talk in the F1 paddock in recent weeks about the future of the Lotus F1 Team. Back in June it was announced that Genii Capital, the company that owns the team, had sold 35 percent of its shares to Infinity Racing Partners Ltd, a newly-registered UK investor consortium comprised of investors from Abu Dhabi and Brunei led by American hedge fund manager, Mansoor Ijaz. The plan was to sell shares in order to pay debts that Genii Capital had built up since it took over the team from Renault in 2009.
NASCAR Will Add New Manufacturer, improve racing NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France on Tuesday "reiterated the sanctioning body’s desire to improve the racing next season at the 1.5-mile tracks, and he believes the sport will add a new manufacturer in the future," according to Dustin Long of MRN.com.
He "did not give a timetable for when a new manufacturer would enter the sport."
Ferrari to build new F1 factory (Update)UPDATE It is "not easy to transform a symbol, adapt a tradition for the future and preserve the spirit while changing the body of a legend," according to Manuel Franco of AS. The Ferrari F1 team, however, "will change its Maranello, Italy headquarters to adjust to modern times, and the new building will have three stories that will host more than 700 people."
Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali said, "In a world this competitive, you can't live based on a name alone." One of "the reasons Red Bull has won the last four world championships is the transformation that has been made to the Jaguar factory since Red Bull bought it."
Power struggle between Lauda (L) and Wolff (R) over Ross Brawn can torpedo the Mercedes team
Mercedes Non-Exec Chair Niki Lauda "is attempting to head off an internal power struggle to persuade Ross Brawn, one of the most successful team principals in Formula One history, to stay with the Mercedes team," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES.
Lauda "dismissed speculation that Brawn was leaving at the end of the season as 'bulls***' and insisted negotiations were continuing to find a way to keep the Manchester born Brawn in position."
That "will mean heading off the ambitions of Toto Wolff, who joined Mercedes as a shareholder to run the commercial and political aspects of the team." Wolff "brought with him Paddy Lowe from McLaren as prospective technical director without consulting Brawn, a man who has taken three F1 teams, including his own, to World Championship titles." Wolff "appears to have decided he wants to run Mercedes with Lowe as his second-in-command, but that has caused a tense stand-off with Brawn, who is demanding that he remains the kingpin in a team he has spent almost five years building."
The disease that is so prevalent in open wheel racing has struck again. Pastor Maldonado has bought the Lotus ride
This rumor is upgraded to 'strong today. Nico Hulkenberg looks set to miss out on the Lotus race seat for 2014.
Team boss Eric Boullier has admitted the German is his preferred choice to replace Kimi Raikkonen.
But, because Hulkenberg is basically unsponsored, an actual paid deal between the 26-year-old and the Enstone based team has been pending the sale of a 35 per cent stake in Lotus to a group of investors known as Quantum.
Andretti Autosport considering sports car entry (Update)UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I just read this rumor and the first thing that came to my mind is that Andretti, being the smart business man that he is, will hedge his bets and venture into the France Family run sports car series in case the Hulman George family runs IndyCar out of business, which appears to be the case given sponsors (and Dragon Racing) are dropping like flies now. TV ratings are key to the ultimate success of any sport, especially one as money dependent as motorsports. I agree with you about the NBC Sport Network ratings killing the series. I would take it so far as to say that if they don't move all races to ABC immediately, the series may be gone in a year or two as more and more sponsors will jump ship. Seeing the writing on the wall, and given he wants to keep his racing business going, I look for Andretti to diversify as early as 2014. Nicky Wang
Dear Nicky, We think your logic has merit. Further to your point, Andretti also announced a Formula E team, so adding sports cars would further diversify his business away from IndyCar. Could it be that the Hulman George family wants to get through the 100th running of the Indy 500 in 2015 and then sell-out to the France Family and get out of racing altogether? That could be why they are only interested in collecting the NBC Sports Network check (that ramps up big time in the last few years of the contract) rather than invest in ensuring the immediate survival of the series by moving all the races to ABC. Hmm..... Mark C.
Munoz makes at least four for Andretti (2nd Update)UPDATE #2
Colombian Carlos Munoz
With 2012 IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay under contract and the recent re-signing of Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport is drawing closer to finalizing its fourth driver for its 2014 IndyCar campaign.
Indy 500 runner-up Carlos Munoz, who just completed his second season of Firestone Indy Lights with the Michael Andretti-owned operation, is coming off a star performance as a stand-in for Andretti's E.J. Viso at Fontana, and after months of work behind the scenes, is drawing closer to becoming the team's fourth full-time IndyCar driver.
Dragon Racing to shutter IndyCar team According to AR1.com sources, Jay Penske has decided to shutdown the Dragon Racing IndyCar team and do Formula E only. If true (still unconfirmed) it was probably due to the team’s inability to land sponsors (Dragon had McAfee and TrueCar - are both leaving IndyCar too). Why? Because TV ratings are so low. Why are they so low? Because the owners of IndyCar prefer to pocket the NBC Sports Network check instead of putting all the races on ABC so teams can land sponsorship and not have to rely on ride-buyers and free handouts (Leader Circle).
How many examples does AR1.com have to give to underscore decisions that are being made are pennywise and pound foolish? Meanwhile sponsors are dropping like flies and the series being run into the ground.
Does anyone out there long for the CART days. Please raise your hand.
Dallara (of course) to get Indy Lights contract (Update)UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Given what we all know that Dallara did when they won the current Indy Car contract for the DW12 and how they charged the teams the high prices for replacement parts, why would the Indy Car series not have asked all 3 of the potential chassis suppliers to include, in their bid’s the prices for replacement parts. It seems like the powers that be have no common business sense when they put out any requests for proposals like most other companies in business would. If I were a prospective new team owner, I sure as heck would want to know what the complete costs for chassis AND parts might be before jumping into the fire with them.
Kevin Magnusson is expected to replace Perez after next year
There are lots of rumors kicking around in India about who will be driving where next year. The basic situation has not changed. The circus is waiting for the next dominoes to fall: the McLaren drivers and confirmation of Nico Hulkenberg at Lotus. The McLaren question is fairly simple. Jenson Button has already re-signed but the deal is yet to be announced. Sergio Perez’s future is undecided for the moment and the pressure is on for the Mexican to deliver some results.
However, the key question is whether or not it is wise for McLaren to change a driver in 2014 when there will be new regulations and a situation in which it would not be wise to introduce a new driver. There is also the question of whether or not Perez’s Mexican connections will help the team with B2B deals in its new commercial structure for 2014 and beyond.
JTG Daugherty to Chevy? And out here in the NASCAR garage, Brad Daugherty's long-time #47-Toyota team, which has Bobby Labonte at the wheel this year and will have AJ Allmendinger next season, may be changing to Chevys for 2014. If the Bobby Hutchens' run team does make the move, it will almost certainly become a satellite of the Richard Childress operation. MikeMulhern.net
Former NASCAR team owner, Ford exec considering IndyCar Executives within NASCAR and Ford Motor Company could be in line for senior management positions within Hulman Racing, The Indianapolis Star has learned.
Hulman Racing oversees motor sports activities of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar.
Jay Frye, who has owned or managed at least three Sprint Cup Series teams (all of which failed, or nearly so), is considering a position as chief sales officer.
NASCAR may copy open-wheel qualifying in 2014 Rumor has it that NASCAR is considering eliminating its boring single-car qualifying next season and implement open-wheel road course-style qualifying at all but Daytona and Talladega tracks.
NASCAR this year implemented open-wheel road course qualifying for its Sprint Cup Series at Sonoma and Watkins Glen for the first time. Under the new format cars attempting to qualify were divided into groups. The number of groups, and the number of cars in each, depended on the number of cars that practiced for the event.
Group assignments were based on final practice times. Each qualifying group was on-track for a set period of time, determined by the series director. A car's best lap time during the group session was the qualifying lap time of record.
The real reason behind Viso's and Maldonado's ride losses? (2nd Update)UPDATE #2 Williams Formula 1 driver Pastor Maldonado insists he is not involved in an investigation into currency exchange fraud in his native Venezuela.
Asked by AUTOSPORT whether he was involved, Maldonado replied: "It's not concerning me because I never received money from the Venezuelan state or government.
"What really happened is that the money is not free and the drivers need to pay for that money because it is currency exchange.
"There is a program in Venezuela for sport and you can change money at a lower price.
No Indian GP in 2014, and beyond (5th Update)UPDATE #5 Indian Grand Prix officials believe there is little chance that a petition to have the event canceled over allegedly unpaid taxes will have any effect.
Vicky Chandhok, head of the Indian motorsport federation, said, "You do find the odd persons going out to try to stop sporting events – be it cricket or whatever," Chandhok said. "It has happened before and it is nothing new to this country.
"We are the world's largest democracy and filing a public interest litigation [PIL] in any court is possible. However, the courts by themselves are just a system, and the judges do not take kindly to a sporting event being stopped, especially on the eve of the event."
Gainsco to skip 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season Unfortunate news from Bob Stallings, owner of the popular two-time Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype championship-winning GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team, has confirmed the Corvette DP team could be absent from the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
“Basically, what I need to do, given the cost I will incur, is decide whether or not 2014 will be a year of transition for the series that would be better for me to wait a year and see how it all plays out,” Stallings told RACER last weekend. “I want to see where the DP stacks up against the P2 cars and see what the series is really thinking about the success they hopefully have in balancing the DPs and P2s. The answer is I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I hope to make my decision by the end of [this] week whether we're going to run or not. It's certainly true we're re-evaluating.”
Rumors grow as Porsche signs F1 people - (2nd Update)UPDATE #2 (GMM) Porsche has denied the very latest suggestions it might be gearing up for a formula one foray.
Exactly a year ago, the Volkswagen-linked carmaker denied that its sports car program - to feature Mark Webber at the wheel in 2014 - was a mere warm-up to F1.
Alongside grand prix winner Webber, who has been poached directly from F1's world champion team, Porsche has also been busily signing up F1 personnel including Fritz Enzinger, Alex Hitzinger, Mike Krack and Urs Kuratle.
Brazilian driver Luiz Razia is determined not to give up on his dream of racing in Formula One, but he has admitted that without the required funding he may be forced to switch his attention to Le Mans or IndyCar in the near future.
Razia was originally confirmed as a driver for Marussia in 2013, testing the MR-02 car in pre-season. However, his track time was soon handed to his then-teammate Max Chilton whilst his financial problems were solved, but without a solution the team had no choice but to turn him away and instead hire Jules Bianchi. Although Razia believes he has the talent, he acknowledged that without the funding his chances of racing are slim.
Bin Sulayem the next FIA candidate? (2nd Update)UPDATE #2
Mohammad Bin Sulayem
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. After weeks of speculation, Mohammed Ben Sulayem has said that he will not stand for election of the FIA presidency and will instead give his full support to Jean Todt.
In July, Sulayem was appointed by the FIA to chair a new task force charged with the responsibility to build a ten-year plan for the sport's global development, the first such plan in the 109-year history of the FIA.
Previously, Sulayem, the first Arab to be elected to the World Motorsport Council, since taking charge of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE in 2006, has established it as a leading national motor sport authority, with acknowledged expertise in associated training, research and education.
John Force mulling Top Fuel NHRA legend John Force, an iconic, 15-time Funny Car champion, might end his career in a Top Fuel dragster because of sponsorship changes coming to his organization.
"With Ford leaving, if I don't find a new manufacturer, John Force Racing will have to evolve," Force said. "That could possibly mean moving another Funny Car to a dragster."
John Force and John Force Racing always has competed in the Funny Car class, winning 17 championships over the last 21 NHRA seasons. But JFR added a dragster this season for his daughter, Brittney Force, a rookie in Top Fuel.
RPM expected to announce No. 43 crew chief plans this week
Aric Almirola won't shy away from admitting that not having crew chief Todd Parrott in the garage the rest of the season will impact his race team. "It certainly has had some impact for sure but for all weekends for something like that to happen, Talladega is a pretty easy one," Almirola said after winning the pole.
RPM competition director Sammy Johns served as interim crew chief at Talladega while Parrott is suspended. Parrott is not expected to return before the end of the season. He must meet with a substance-abuse professional, who will diagnose him and determine what steps he must take to complete NASCAR's "Road to Recovery" program.
Ashley Judd "Going to Give It Another Try" With Estranged Husband Dario Franchitti
Dario Franchitti after winning the Indy 500 with Ashley on the sidepod
Ashley Judd has had a change of heart. Sources reveal to Us Weekly that the 45-year-old actress is ready to give her relationship with estranged husband Dario Franchitti another shot.
The race car driver, 40, got into a scary accident at the Grand Prix of Houston on Oct. 6 that left him with a broken right ankle, and two fractured vertebrae. He also suffered a concussion from the serious crash. (Fourteen other individuals -- including 13 fans and an IndyCar Series official -- were also injured from debris that flew into the air.)
Low TV ratings cost IndyCar yet another major sponsor (2nd Update)UPDATE #2 Any big name sponsors IndyCar and its team have continue to drop like flies as a result of the series low TV ratings because the owners of the series won't pay to put all the races on ABC so ratings average at least 1.0 and over 1 million viewers per broadcast. As a result money is flowing out of the paddock much faster than it is coming in. The latest to fly the coup - McAfee it would appear. Dragon Racing owner Jay Penske said the current 2014 budget only allows for a couple of IndyCar events and a Formula E program. Dragon will compete in the two IndyCar events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (May 10 on the road course, May 25 on the oval), Penske confirmed. We have updated the 2014 IndyCar Silly Season page with the recent losses in sponsors and driver changes.
10/19/13 The sponsors are dropping like flies now as the low TV ratings noose tightens. Honda has issued the following statement regarding its decision to drop title sponsorship of the IndyCar Series’ Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after nine seasons:
Overheard in Houston - Friday (2nd Update Andretti to Honda?)UPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement of Andretti moving to Honda.
10/17/13 Andretti Autosport will announce on Friday in Fontana that they are switching to Honda power for 2014 and beyond and we also expect to hear that Marco Andretti has been re-signed to drive the No. 25 next season with sponsorship from Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
10/17/13 As for the status of James Hinchcliffe, E.J. Viso and potentially Carlos Munoz, Michael Andretti said: “We’re hopefully announcing some things soon – there are some things I think we can do this weekend.”
Andretti is spending today in Dallas for sponsor meetings, then heading to Los Angeles for this weekend’s season finale in Fontana, Calif.
The other domino is whether Andretti Autosport will switch to Honda from Chevrolet for 2014, which appears likely at this point. I asked Michael whether Chip Ganassi’s move the other way caught him off guard.
What were once packed grandstands were at best 2/3rds full for this year's Iowa race. Why? The track runs NASCAR Nationwide (twice now) and Trucks. There is not enough race fans in that market with money to sell tickets for that many races. NASCAR has IndyCar circled and is going in for the kill.
Iowa Speedway is fast becoming NASCAR country and the significant drop in IndyCar attendance last year can be directly attributed to the fact they cannot sell enough tickets for three NASCAR races and an IndyCar race to fill the grandstands. NASCAR, IndyCar's #1 enemy, is now going in for the kill. IndyCar's days at the track are numbered. Bank on it. We have seen this scenario play out time and time again and the ending is never happy for IndyCar.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series is returning to Iowa Speedway twice in 2014 — its first stop in Newton on Sunday, May 18. Iowa Speedway’s second Nationwide race of the season will be held Saturday, Aug. 2.
The Nationwide news comes on the heels of Thursday’s announcement that Iowa Speedway will host a combined NASCAR Camping World Truck Series/IndyCar Series weekend on July 11-12 of next year, with the IndyCar race bumping its distance from 250 miles to 300.
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