Michael Andretti

IndyCar: Will Andretti be in NASCAR before F1? (Update)

For the first time since the deal was announced in early July, Andretti explained exclusively to IndyStar how Gainbridge’s multi-year primary sponsor deal with Spire Motorsports in NASCAR Cup could help fulfill Andretti’s numerous attempts to join the series.

Ty Dillon, driver of the #77 Gainbridge Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series HighPoint.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 22, 2023 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Ty Dillon, driver of the #77 Gainbridge Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series HighPoint.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 22, 2023 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) | Getty Images

“Andretti” wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the [Spire Motorsports] release, outside Marco’s Truck series appearance. But the driver’s father − the racing series owner with entries in IndyCar, IMSA, Formula E, Supercars, Extreme E and Indy NXT − confirmed that Towriss’ dual role as the team’s new co-owner, while keeping his executive roles within Group 1001, allowed the sides to pursue a variety of options for the future.

The cheaper option for control over a full-time entry in the Cup series would likely involve purchasing one of (or both) Spire’s charters.

If he has his way, Andretti said, he’d like to take a different route – one in the image of the majority stake Andretti Autosport recently landed in IMSA juggernaut Wayne Taylor Racing. In that deal, WTR – now Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport – has continued its same day-to-day operations with the same folks in charge before it was announced in late December 2022.

More at the Indianapolis Star.

July 25, 2023 

Even if Michael Andretti’s team is approved to enter F1, it won’t be until 2025 at the earliest. Andretti may be in NASCAR before that.

–by Mark Cipolloni–

Michael Andretti is within weeks of hearing formally whether his team, Andretti-Cadillac, will be approved as the 11th team in Formula 1.

“We’ll wait until the evaluation of the teams is finished, and then we’ll see, but I have said it before, and I say it now – how could we turn down General Motors? I don’t understand the negativity,” Mohammed Ben Sulayem FIA President recently said.

“I heard that Liberty Media would also like an 11th team – this was said by CEO Greg Maffei,” Ben Sulayem added. “It seems that we are both looking at the interests of the sport and its sustainability because this way there will be more business for the promoter as well.

“Hopefully next month we can make a statement.”

Formula 1 can veto the new teams, but it cannot block them. The final word on licensing lies with the FIA.

But even if [Michael] Andretti gets a F1 license to compete, he wins, but loses.

The Andretti-Cadillac team would then be allowed to take part in the races, but would not yet be part of the Concorde Agreement and would, therefore, not be entitled to collect entry and prize money.

He needs Liberty’s approval for that.

Andretti wants to start racing in F1 in 2025, but the ‘current’ Concorde Agreement is in effect through the end of 2025 and the Andretti-Cadillac is not part of that agreement – they are not signatories to the contract.

The team could decide, if they have enough financial backing, to race for free – zero prize money.

But why would they design a car for 2025 and then have to design a 100% new car for 2026 when the new regulations kick in – a huge expense – with no prize money to offset it?

Perhaps that is all factored into Andretti’s financial model.

By starting in 2025, it would give the team a year of experience in F1, which would put them in a better position for 2026 when everyone starts from scratch so-to-speak with the new regulations.

NASCAR is Calling

While Andretti Autosport is focused on trying to get into F1, a recent move in NASCAR by its major sponsor Gainbridge is indirectly serving as an experimental step into the stock car series for Andretti, according to people familiar with the matter as told to Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal.

Andretti has been having discussions in the NASCAR space in recent months about how and when to get into the series, SBJ first reported in June, even while team owner Michael Andretti is mainly spending his time on his F1 bid.

In early July, Spire Motorsports announced that it had signed a multiyear deal with Gainbridge, a fintech company, to be the primary sponsor of the team’s two cars in the NASCAR Cup Series for 16 of the final 18 races this year.

The sides also revealed that day that former IndyCar driver Marco Andretti, Michael’s son, would make his debut in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in a Spire truck that month.

Spire Motorsports is co-owned by long-time NASCAR industry executive Jeff Dickerson (a native of Indianapolis) and Thaddeus ‘T.J.’ Puchr. Steve Letarte is an Executive Consultant to the team, and so far, it has one NASCAR Cup win and one NASCAR Truck win to its credit.

Marco Andretti has since stated that he’s looking at competing in other races in NASCAR and this past weekend he was at Pocono Raceway.

In a social media post, Andretti wore a Spire Motorsports hat.

The team is not yet commenting on its talks to potentially enter NASCAR, and Andretti Autosport was not technically named in the press release with Spire.

But SBJ understands that this move is a first step of sorts that will help the Andretti family get a feel for NASCAR if it decides it wants to take a more formal move into it. Group 1001 declined to comment beyond its press release.

Spire controls two NASCAR charters, and if Andretti does enter the series officially at a later date, it’s not yet clear what form it will take, whether that would be some sort of combined outfit with Spire, a full re-brand to Andretti, or some other option.

We could potentially see the Andretti name in NASCAR as early as 2024 and prior to Formula 1 in 2025.

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