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Carlos Munoz salvages day for Andretti team with podium run

April 15th, 2014

4.15.14 (via MotorSportsTalk) – On a day where Andretti Autosport had two of its biggest threats for a Long Beach win erased in one fell swoop, its youngest pilot made sure that the team would still get represented on the podium.
 
Colombian driver Carlos Munoz became the first of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ quartet of rookies to score a podium this season with a third-place finish.
 
However, it’s not his first career IndyCar podium as he finished runner-up to Tony Kanaan in last year’s Indianapolis 500 while driving a fifth, part-time car for Andretti.
 
Munoz admitted that today wasn’t the ideal way he’d like to earn a podium, nodding to the multi-car incident that enveloped veteran teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe on Lap 54.
 
Hunter-Reay was looking to pass Josef Newgarden for the lead in Turn 4, but instead made contact with him. Both went into the wall and collected Hinchcliffe.
 
Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato were also eliminated in the wreck. Another rookie, Jack Hawksworth, and Helio Castroneves were involved as well but ultimately finished the race.
 
Munoz, however, was able to miss the accident and took the subsequent restart with 16 laps remaining in fifth place.
 
He had taken fourth from Juan Pablo Montoya before Graham Rahal brought out the yellow again with 13 to go, and he then moved up to third when leader Scott Dixon pitted for fuel with two laps remaining – which enabled Mike Conway to eventually secure the win.
 
“I think [the result] means more for the team, and a lot [more] confidence for me that I know I can fight with the top guys,” the Colombian said. “…It gives me confidence [that] I know I can be also really fast on tracks and on the road courses.
 
“Right now, I think we aren’t really happy with what happened with Ryan and James, but for sure, we’re going to be ready for Barber.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

Hunter-Reay Captures Long Beach Pole on Final Lap

April 13th, 2014

4.12.13 (via IndyCar.com) – Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified second for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2010, '11 and '13 with one victory to represent the efforts. On April 13, he'll start the 40th annual race on the temporary street circuit from the inside of the front row.

Hunter-Reay earned the Verizon P1 Award by pipping Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe on his final lap of the Firestone Fast Six session with a lap of 1 minute, 7.8219 seconds on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn course. Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 27 United Fiber & Data car, was .1184 of a second back after completing the 10-minute session.

Read more…

 

GRIFFITHS JOINS ANDRETTI AS DIRECTOR OF MOTORSPORT DEVELOPMENT

April 8th, 2014

4.8.14 Michael Andretti and his championship winning IndyCar racing effort, Andretti Autosport, announced today that industry veteran Roger Griffiths has joined the team as the new Director of Motorsport Development, and will work with all areas of Andretti racing competition including the INDYCAR ladder and Andretti Formula E, as well as Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross (VARX).

"I'm very excited to have Roger (Griffiths) join the team," said Andretti. "A man with his knowledge, talent and experience will be a huge addition for not just Andretti Autosport, but also for VARX and Andretti Formula E. We look forward to using expertise in many different areas within our team."

Griffiths, who has enjoyed a vast background in many motorsports endeavors including Formula 1, IndyCar, American Le Mans Series, European Le Mans Series and Super Touring Cars, most recently served as the Technical Director for Honda Performance Development where he experienced recent success at the Indy 500 in 2012 and the 2013 Driver's Championship.

"I am very excited to be joining the Andretti Autosport Organization," said Griffiths. "I have, in past, shared a lot of victories with the team but now look forward to the opportunity to be able to contribute more directly to their future success and growth."

The UK native is an engineering graduate of Loughborough University of Technology (1991). The year following his graduation, Griffiths earned his master's degree in Automotive Product Engineering at Cranfield Institute of Technology with a specialization in Vehicle Modeling and Lap Simulation.

The Indianapolis-based team heads to the West Coast this week for the 40th annual Grand Prix of Long Beach, the second round of competition in the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires. Fans can catch all the action from Long Beach live on NBC Sports Network Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, with behind the scenes footage of the Andretti Autosport team at AndrettiTV.com.

 

 

 

Don’t Miss Out: Appearances for week of April 7, 2014

April 7th, 2014

4.7.14 - Don't miss out on your opportunity to visit with our INDYCAR drivers from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series! Check out the list of appearances for our weekend at the Grand Prix of Long Beach!

 

 

Thursday, April 10

James Hinchcliffe

Pit Stop Demo

Pine Ave.

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

 

Friday, April 11

Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Muñoz

Verizon IndyCar Autograph Session

INDYCAR Paddock

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 

Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Muñoz

The Yellow Party

w/ a performance by LIVE

The Federal Bar

102 Pine Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802

6:45 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.

 

Saturday, April 12

Carlos Muñoz meet & greet

Honda Latino

INDYCAR Fan Village

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 

Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham signing

Indy Lights Autograph Session

INDYCAR Fan Village

2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 

 

 

Zach Veach claims first series win in St. Pete

April 2nd, 2014

4.2.14 (via RACER) – Zach Veach took the first Indy Lights win of his career with a dominant performance in St. Petersburg. The Andretti Autosport driver, who was one of only three non-rookies in the field, passed polesitter and fellow veteran Gabby Chaves at the first corner, and never looked back. He crossed the line five seconds clear of Chaves, who in turn had a 16s buffer over third-placed Jack Harvey.
 

"I'm so happy. Last year didn't go exactly how we wanted it to, but my engineer (Doug Zister) never stopped helping me," related Veach. "This winter I spent a lot of time trying to get more physically strong because I felt that was my weakness, and spent a lot of time doing mental things and came into the season with a whole new attitude. I think it paid off for us.
 

"My engineer definitely was on me a lot about saving tires. In my mind I was thinking, 'Just don't mess up, just hit my marks, have clean laps' – and we were able to do that. I took the lead early and were able to keep it from there. I want to thank everyone on the RePLAY XD team for all their hard work and support in getting me to Victory Lane. Big thanks to Cooper TiresMazda and the Mazda Road to Indy for this amazing start to 2014."
 

It was the battle for third that provided most of the race's interest. Early on the position was occupied by Matthew Brabham, who looked a threat for second during the opening laps before he clipped the wall at Turn 3 and was forced to pit with a punctured left-rear tire. That promoted AutoGP champion Vittorio Ghirelli onto the provisional podium, but he was never able to open a gap over the group of cars pursuing him and was eventually beaten with a great move around the outside of the last corner by Harvey.

 

Read more…

 

 

 

Young talent Garett Grist hoping to make big waves at Andretti Autosport in 2014

April 2nd, 2014

4.2.14 (via RaceChaserOnline) – Being the youngest member of the team doesn’t mean one can’t make a big splash. That philosophy is exactly what young rising star Garett Grist is hoping to prove this season in the Pro Mazda Series presented by Cooper Tires.

Driving for Andretti Autosport (AA), the soon-to-be 19-year-old makes his debut in Pro Mazda this weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida, during the season opening St. Petersburg Pro Mazda doubleheader. The young Canadian, who last season competed in USF2000 for the veteran open wheel squad, says that while he wasn’t comfortable at first with moving up the ladder a year early, he knew that it was the smarter decision to remain with the Andretti team.

“To be honest, this wasn’t where I expected I was going to be this season (in Pro Mazda), but I’ll take it,” said Grist, who is currently finishing his final term of high school at Grimsby District Secondary School in Ontario. “When the Andrettis announced they were going to be closing their F2000 program going into this year, I knew I had two options: either stay in USF2000 and find a new team to work with, or move up with the team I’m at now.”

“I’m excited and glad to be with Michael Andretti and everyone at Andretti Autosport again this season. Our first year definitely had a lot of high points, but I didn’t accomplish everything personally that I wanted to; I’m hoping that with this group of guys helping me out again that we can make 2014 an even stronger year for this whole team.”

Grist began his junior karting career in his native Canada in 2009, winning the ASN Canada FIA Junior Rotax National Championship in his rookie season and qualifying to compete at the karting World Finals as a member of Team Canada in both 2009 and 2010. He also won the Western Canadian Challenge Junior Rotax championship in 2010 before moving up to test his hand at single-seater Formula racing in 2011.

The young gun raced in Formula Ford and F1600 in 2011 and 2012, racking up a combined seventeen top ten finishes between the two season runs, including three victories in Ontario Formula Ford in 2011 and a fourth place finish in the F1600 Formula F Series championship with Bryan Herta Autosport in 2012. Grist also received the prestigious Team Canada Racing scholarship before hooking up with the Andretti Autosport team for the 2013 season, when the young teenager’s career took off.

Last year, in a breakout season, Grist took the Cooper Tires USF2000 championship by storm, notching a win, a pole, four podium and ten top 10 finishes in his rookie campaign in both the series and with his Andretti team. The Ontario native parlayed that record into a third-place finish in the championship standings and Rookie of the Year honors, but says he feels like last season should have been even bigger for he and the team despite a thrilling runner-up result at Lucas Oil Raceway and the victory in the final round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“We had a good year last year, but we definitely had a few races get away from us,” Grist lamented as he recalled his 2013 campaign. “I feel like we easily could have and probably should have won all three races (at Mid-Ohio) that weekend, we just had a few things go wrong here and there.”

“The race at LOR though, was amazing for us. We dropped back a pretty long ways in the middle of the race, and then it started getting down to crunch time around the last 20 laps or so, and the car just came to life; we started picking our way through and got all the way to second. Ran out of time to get the leader, but it was a great day and really bolstered my confidence a lot.”

Grist also competed in this year’s Cooper Tire’s Winterfest, where he notched a win and four top four finishes in four starts to come home third in the winter series championship standings behind Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove.

Off-track, Grist is also very active in giving back to the community in his home province. Grist is an avid supporter of the SickKids Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and pays frequent visits to the hospital to spend time with many of the young patients. Grist and the AA team also have the patients submit helmet designs that are then used on his helmets and auctioned off, with any proceeds going back to the hospital.

 

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Shelby Blackstock paving own way to stardom in 2014

April 1st, 2014

4.1.14 (via RaceChaserOnline) — Ask Shelby Blackstock about his parents. He’ll tell you all about them. In fact, he’s as proud of them as they are of him.

Blackstock, the son of country music superstar Reba McEntire and her husband and manager Narvel Blackstock, has never shied away from talking about his family, but has worked hard over the years to find his own individual niche and follow his own path, one that led away from the entertainment business, where he spent his time as a young child, and into a different form of entertainment — auto racing.

“I worked on the road (with mom and dad) when I was eight years old, just doing odds and ends but still doing things for them, but they really got me working by the time I was 10,” Shelby says, recalling his days before racing. “It was never something that was forced on me. I wanted to have a chance to go work on the road anyways. I was a roadie for a while, I just never ended up living it,” Blackstock laughs.

“I’d go out on tour for two, three weeks at a time and it was awesome as a kid, but as I got older, I realized it wasn’t for me.”

After graduating high school, Shelby was enrolled at the University of Arizona, but quickly began having second thoughts about earning his degree. During Thanksgiving of his freshman year, Shelby called his mother and struck a deal with her that if he finished the school year, she would agree to send him out to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing.

“I got to U of A, and I started asking around about potential majors,” Blackstock explained. “I said, ‘do you have anything with cars or car design?’ and they said, ‘well no, you have to be an art major and that’s two more years at a different college’, so that was out. Aerodynamics was three more years and being a space major, so I’m like, ‘yeah, no’ but while I was there I met Jim Click (with the Jim Click Racing Team) in Tucson and that kicked off the motorsports dream.

When Blackstock arrived at the Bondurant School and got behind the wheel, there was no doubt about his natural talent for driving race cars. He outpaced all of the “refresher course” drivers on the ground and showed so much skill that the Bondurant School suggested he take a turn at the Skip Barber School of Racing.

On advice, Blackstock did indeed head to Skip Barber to perfect his craft after returning to the Bondurant School one more time following the conclusion of his school year, and from there, the road was built.

But even despite Blackstock’s long journey to get to professional motorsports, from a very early age it seemed he was destined to belong there.

“My parents bought us (Shelby and his niece) go-karts one Christmas and told us we could ride them at the house. Now, these aren’t the race karts that everybody’s used to seeing the kids learn in today; these were from Wal-Mart with lawn mower engines, full-on ‘redneck-mobiles’ and it was probably crazy what we were doing with them,” the Tennessee native laughed.

“So, my parents buy us these karts, and their rule was that we couldn’t drive in the grass, not in any circumstances. We could only drive on the driveway and in the field.  The problem was at the end of the driveway we had to 180 it to keep out of the grass, and a lot of times we’d hook the wheels and roll the karts. Finally, we figured out how to drop the right rear wheel down on the dirt just enough to lose traction, and then we’d yank the wheel left and slam on the brakes. Problem solved!”

Blackstock began his competitive racing career on August 28, 2010, racing in the Mustang Challenge Miller Cup series, but it wasn’t until January of 2011 that Blackstock made his sports car debut in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Daytona running as high as first before turning the car over to his co-driver Roly Falgueras. The duo ultimately finished 18th that day but the track time would set the stage for Blackstock’s future success.

Blackstock’s season got off on the right foot from race one, as he took the victory along with co-driver Ashley Freiberg at the BMW Performance 200, the season-opening event for the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.

Looking at that moment now, Blackstock calls it “career-changing”.

“To have started out our season the way we did with Fall Line Motorsports in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge was amazing. Every single session we went out we were insanely fast and in the end it just all came together. Even despite some problems in qualifying we started fifteenth and were able to pull out a win.”

“To go to victory lane at Daytona; every driver in the world dreams of having a chance to win there. Now we can say we’ve done it.”

Blackstock has also raced in the Skip Barber National Series and the Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship. Currently, he races in the Pro Mazda Championship with Andretti Autosport and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge driving the Grnad Sport (GS) #51 Boss 302R Mustang for Roush Performance.

 

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Andretti – “I’m not even close to where I want to be”

March 27th, 2014

3.27.14 (via RACER) – A lot was made of Marco Andretti's off-season self-analysis and the driver coaching he sought ahead of the 2013 IndyCar Series championship. The third-generation driver, as most reckoned, had the talent to become a regular winner but needed to curb some bad driving habits and to amplify what came naturally before he'd reach his full potential.

 

Marco's year-to-year improvement was staggering, vaulting from 16th in the 2012 standings to fifth last year, directly behind Team Penske's Will Power and ahead of all three of his Andretti Autosport teammates, including 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.

 

Andretti went away, worked on himself, and clearly prospered from the experience. But what kind of encore would help him to build upon that foundation? As the 2014 season approaches, Marco tellsRACER the next phase of his personal development is to add to the foundation he built last year.

 

"It's more of just looking at the subtle details," he said. "What last year did for me was confirm a lot of my work was in the right direction, which means a lot. Because it means that you could just keep going in that direction. A lot of it was confirmed, but I'm not even close to where I want to be. I don't think I'm far, but I'm not the kind of guy who's happy with [finishing] second or third, so if I'm not winning, I'm nowhere near where I know I should be."

 

The tools Andretti gained by working with driver coach Rob Wilson was how to lap quickly without demanding too much from his front tires under braking and on turn-in. This part of Andretti's education is well-known. But after spending seven season driving and Indy car one particular way, it would be unreasonable to expect Andretti – or any other driver – to completely master a new style in just one year.

 

 

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IndyCar’s resident court jester, Hinchcliffe rolls with more changes into 2014

March 25th, 2014

3.25.14 (via MotorSportsTalk) – Change has been the constant for James Hinchcliffe throughout most of his open-wheel career.  Often times, he’s made the best of the newness he faces.

In the 2011 offseason into 2012, he switched teams (Newman/Haas to Andretti Autosport), and switched cars (as IndyCar switched from the previous Dallara IR 03 to the new Dallara DW12). A year ago, he got his old engineer from 2011 back in Craig Hampson, but now Hampson has moved into the team’s head of R&D role.

So it should come as no surprise that although he’s into year three with Andretti, there are yet more changes the 27-year-old Canadian will need to get used to.

After re-signing with Andretti at the 2013 season finale, he’s got his third different engineer in as many seasons, in Nathan O’Rourke, formerly of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. He’s also got a new sponsor and seriously rocking new livery, in the form of the light blue-and-white colors of United Fiber & Data. And he, like the rest of the team, has a new engine partner in Honda.

But, in typical “Hinch” fashion, the story of how the changes took place took a comedic turn.

“I went to his (Josef’s) house where he normally keeps his engineer in a cage in the basement,” Hinchcliffe said during IndyCar media day in Orlando. “I broke in while he was sleeping. Nathan made a lot of noise, rattled the cage.

“It woke Josef, which made for an ugly altercation on the main floor.  I was able to use chloroform.  I said, ‘Josef, does this smell like chloroform?’  Then Nathan and I made it out the window.”

Any repercussions?

“No. We were just goofing around outside. The chloroform had a destructive effect on his memory and he thinks Nathan is still in the basement.  He hasn’t figured it out yet.”

Claaaassic Hinch.

The thing Hinchcliffe did figure out in 2013 was winning. After his promising first two seasons, Hinchcliffe took his first three wins in three dynamic, but different ways.

In St. Petersburg, he capitalized on a wide Turn 1 corner exit by Helio Castroneves to scythe through on the inside, then hold off the Brazilian to capture an emotional first victory in the then-green-and-black GoDaddy colors.

He added his two other ways in disparate fashions entirely. In Brazil, he passed Takuma Sato on the last corner of the last lap. In the corn fields of Iowa, Hinch delivered the season’s biggest colossal beatdown, leading 226 of 250 laps.

The St. Petersburg win, as it was Hinchcliffe’s first and came in the late Dan Wheldon’s adopted hometown, in what would have been his car, of course stands out.

 

Read more…

 

 

 

Don’t Miss Out: Appearances for week of March 24, 2014

March 24th, 2014

3.24.14 – Don't miss out on your opportunity to visit with our INDYCAR drivers from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series! Check out the list of appearances for our weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Pete, the 2014 season opener!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thursday, March 27
 
Marco Andretti signing
Walgreens
5420 9th Street N., St. Pete, FL 33716
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
 
Carlos Muñoz LIVE Twitter chat
@FollowAndretti
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
 
Zach Veach, Matthew Brabham, Shelby Blackstock & Garett Grist
Festival of States Parade
on the streets of Downtown St. Pete
7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
 
 
 
Friday, March 28
 
Marco Andretti & James Hinchcliffe signing
ShopAndretti.com Merch Truck
12:05 p.m. – 12:35 p.m.
 
Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham signing
ShopAndretti.com Merch Truck
3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
 
Ryan Hunter-Reay appearance
The Yellow Party
The Vinoy
501 5th Ave. NE., St. Pete, 33701
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
 
 
 
Saturday, March 29
 
Shelby Blackstock & Garett Grist signing
ShopAndretti.com Merch Truck
9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
 
Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham signing
Indy Lights Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
 
Ryan Hunter-Reay & Carlos Muñoz signing
ShopAndretti.com Merch Truck
12:05 p.m. – 12:35 p.m.
 
Shelby Blackstock & Garett Grist signing
USF2000/Pro Mazda Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
 
Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay & Carlos Muñoz signing
Verizon IndyCar Series Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
 
 
 
Sunday, March 30
 
Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham Q&A
INDYCAR Fan Village Stage
11:10 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.
 
Carlos Muñoz Q&A
INDYCAR Fan Village Stage
12:30 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.
 
 
 


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