Kanaan to leave Andretti team UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today based on the following SpeedTV.com report - - One of the longest, most successful partnerships in IndyCar racing is over, at least for now, as Tony Kanaan and Andretti Autosport have parted company.
The popular 2004 champion couldn’t be guaranteed a ride after longtime sponsor 7-Eleven bailed a few weeks ago so he took a buyout and now he’s a free agent.
“I don’t agree with some things and it’s very disappointing but I have no hard feelings,” said Kanaan, who joined a team then known as Andretti-Green in 2003 and proceeded to win 14 races and lead more than 2,600 laps.
“It’s sad because I wanted to be there. It’s been my home for nine years and I have a lot of great memories but it’s life, it’s reality, and now I’ve got to find a new home.”
Michael Andretti, who took over sole ownership of the team in 2009, issued the following statement:
“It’s difficult to believe that Andretti Autosport and Tony Kanaan will no longer be competing together, but that is now the reality with the signing of this agreement. When 7-Eleven notified us that they would not be returning as primary sponsor, we were left with a very challenging situation. Given the timing of that notification, we felt it was important to give Tony the freedom to review his options outside of Andretti Autosport.
“We understand his value as a driver in this series and we did not want to prevent him from furthering his career in the event we could not arrive at a reasonable solution for 2011.
“So today we agreed the best option for both Tony and our race team is to allow him the freedom to sign with another team. Personally, I want to thank him for all the effort and passion he shared with our team and I am proud of what we accomplished. He brought us our first pole, our first race win and our first championship. We wish Tony many wins in the future.” SpeedTV.com 10/04/10 7-Eleven, Inc. has notified Andretti Autosport that it will not continue in its role as the primary sponsor of the team's #11 IZOD IndyCar Series entry beyond 2010.
7-Eleven will maintain its position as an associate sponsor on the team's #7 IZOD IndyCar Series entry for 2011.
Andretti Autosport is currently working to secure primary sponsorship for the #11 car, which has been driven by Tony Kanaan since 2003. zzzz
JOHN LOPES, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT:
"We are confirming today that 7-Eleven will not be returning as the primary sponsor of the 11 car next season. We are thankful for their many years of support and are proud of all we accomplished together.
"7-Eleven will continue to be an associate sponsor of our team through an ongoing contract in support of Danica Patrick's GoDaddy.com car.
"Our hope is to have Tony Kanaan and the 11 car as part of our IZOD IndyCar Series lineup again in 2011 and we are currently working very hard to find the necessary sponsorship to make that a reality.
"In the meantime and although he remains under contract with Andretti Autosport, we have given Tony and his management the permission to talk with other IndyCar team owners to explore what other alternatives might be available at this time." 10/04/10 Robin Miller reported on the FINAL LAP segment that 7-11 had informed Michael they would NOT be back late last week and that was confirmed by Kanaan and two other Andretti personnel.
10/04/10 According to Sunday's edition of SPEED Channel's "Speed Report," Andretti Autosport's Tony Kanaan has been informed that he is free to look for another ride due to sponsorship issues.
We also heard in Miami that 7-Eleven was gone next year but on Indy Star writer Curt Cavin wrote in a Sept. 27 blog post that team owner Michael Andretti said 7-Eleven was "good" for a return so we did not report it during the weekend. Kanaan signed a multi-year deal to stay with Andretti Autosport in 2008.