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IndyCar 2014 Review: P8 – Carlos Munoz

November 24th, 2014

11.24.2014 (via RACER.com) – Marshall Pruett says…
 
Carlos was shot out of a rocket during most of his rookie IndyCar season. He stood on the podium at Long Beach, the second race of the season, and continued on a roll that had the 22-year-old Colombian (22!) holding sixth in the standings through Iowa, the 12th of 18 races on the calendar.
 
The Munoz train would start to derail at Toronto where a pair of 17th places followed by a 22nd at Milwaukee and a 19th at Sonoma took a bit of shine off his pre-Toronto body of work. The end result was eighth in the championship, nestled between Tony Kanaan and teammate Marco Andretti in the final standings.
 
If you detect a slight tone of disappointment in what I’ve written so far, it’s because Munoz slammed the rookie wall much harder than expected. Rounds 1 through 12 came easy to Carlos—that Long Beach podium, a fourth at the Indy 500, another podium at Houston 1 and then another podium at Pocono served as incredible highs that more than counterbalanced his craters at Barber, the GP of Indy and Houston 2.
 
You expect rookies to be inconsistent, and Munoz met those expectations perfectly, but when he was on, the kid looked like a future IndyCar champion. The final 33 percent of the season exposed Munoz’s youth and inexperience, and that isn’t something to be held against him.
 
Teamed with the excellent engineer Garrett Mothersead, Carlos was a revelation in 2014, put some big names behind him in the championship, and by all accounts, overachieved. He was the second best driver at Andretti Autosport—just two spots behind team leader, Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, and that’s something no one would have predicted.
 
I'm curious to see where he fits on the grid in 2015. With a touch of consistency, he moves up a few positions in the standings, but does he have an extra gear to mix it up with Power, Dixon, RHR, Pagenaud and the other beasts on a regular basis?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Brabham to make Formula E Race Debut

November 21st, 2014

11.21.2014 (via SpeedCafe.com) – Matthew Brabham will make his FIA Formula E race debut with Andretti Autosport as a replacement for Charles Pic at Malaysia this weekend.
 
The 20-year-old has been promoted from his role as reserve driver at the American outfit and will now become the youngest driver on the 20 car grid for the second round of the all electric championship at Putrajaya.
 
Brabham has already experienced the revolutionary Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E car having taken part in two tests at Donington Park earlier this year.
The Indy Lights racer also joined up with the Andretti Autosport team at the opening round of the championship in Beijing, where Andretti drivers Franck Montagny and Pic finished second and fourth respectively.
 
“It’s going to be an exciting weekend to race in Malaysia, it’s come about fairly quickly, but I’m ready for the challenge,” said Brabham.
 
“The Andretti Formula E team worked hard on preparing these unique cars for tight street circuits and that paid dividends in China. I’ve been communicating closely with the engineers since then to come up with new ideas and strategies for the future races – so hopefully we can move forward again.
 
“Formula E caught my eye from the beginning – the technology is intriguing and to get the chance to finally race after doing some early testing is really cool.
 
“The talent and experience in the field is tremendous – it’s the best that you’re likely to see outside a Formula 1 World Championship race. As an up and coming driver, it’s very rare that you get an opportunity to race drivers with such experience.
 
“I’m the youngest in the field, which is a real honour, but that doesn’t mean anything when the lights go out – I’m there to do a job for Andretti Formula E and position myself as best I can.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

IndyCar 2014 Review: P9 – Marco Andretti

November 21st, 2014

11.21.2014 (via RACER.com) - Robin Miller says…
 
After leading 30 laps and finishing third in the Indianapolis 500, Andretti stood fifth in the Verizon standings and was looking like championship material. The third generation driver had a second at Barber to go with an eighth at Long Beach and he’d qualified in the Top 10 three of four times on street and road courses.
 
Maybe, in his ninth season driving for his father’s team he was about to make that long-awaited breakthrough.
 
But, from the Midwest swing starting in Detroit until the west coast finales, things went south for the 27-year-old native of Nazareth. He managed only three eighths and a pair of ninths in another disappointing Marco-Indyseason that was represented in his ninth place in the rankings.
 
It’s a mystery how he can look like a world-beater one minute and just another guy the next but the lack of consistency has been Marco’s constant companion. He’s got the Andretti genes on ovals but road race/street course qualifying remains his biggest detriment. It looked like early in 2013 he’d made big strides but was back to his old self in 2014 – his average starting spot was 16th for the last eight races when forced to turn right and left.
 
If the season ran 10 times on the oval at IMS, he’d be a contender every year because he’s always in the lead pack. But, until he can get a handle on the bulk of the races, the Month of May will have to be his Holy Grail.
 
Marshall Pruett says…
 
History would suggest Marco Andretti is the seventh, eighth or ninth best IndyCar driver since his rookie season in 2006, and I’d have to agree.
Nine years into his IndyCar career, Marco has ended up seventh, eighth or ninth in the standings on six occasions – 66 percent of the time. It makes his ninth-place finish in 2014 less of a surprise, and more of a confirmation that it’s where he belongs.
 
Granted, I’m not saying his talent is limiting him to P7/P8/P9–we know he's better than that, but it is where he tends to settle at the end of most seasons. The anomaly, of course, was 2013, when he made a spirited run to fifth in the championship. As many of us chronicled at the time, he spent the off-season receiving coaching to address his shortcomings, and responded by landing on the podium at Round 1, another podium at Round 4, and captured seven top-6 finishes.
His biggest strides were made on strMarco-HondaLogoeet courses, yet in 2014, it looked like most of his hard work was undone. Those storming drives were rarities this year, other than a fine run to second at Barber and another third-place at the Indy 500.
 
If I’m honest, I don’t remember much of Marco’s season, and that’s not due to forgetfulness; it’s because it wasn’t particularly memorable. He was rarely that far off the pace, had Danica-like consistency with eight top-10s, but like his former teammate, the numbers are misleading: Six of those eight top-10s were finishes of eighth, ninth or 10th.
 
It all added up to a decent average—enough to place Marco ninth in the standings, but in a field of 21 full-time entries, being slightly better than the bottom half of the field isn’t what I expect from the 27-year-old. He finished one position behind his rookie teammate Carlos Munoz, which is another statistic that should serve as an embarrassment and a motivator.
 
One thing that wasn't Marco's fault took place in the engine bay: If there was smoke trialing from someone's exhaust pipes in 2014, it tended to be Marco's No. 25 Honda. Minus the explosions, he could have finished higher in the standings, but keep in mind that those ahead of him also had blowups or crashes that left points on the table. Regardless, engine reliability wasn't on his side.
 
Marco gave us a brief glimpse of what he can achieve when he humbles and applies himself. P5 in 2013 wasn’t a fluke, which makes his regression in 2014 yet another reason to be frustrated with his inconsistent output.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dalton Kellett added to Pro Mazda roster for 2015 season

November 18th, 2014

11.18.14 – Andretti Autosport confirmed today that Dalton Kellett has joined its Mazda Road to Indy roster. The 21-year-old will drive the No. 28 K-Line machine for the Indianapolis-based team for his sophomore season in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires.

With one podium, two top-five and nine top-10 finishes, Kellett came away 10th in the 2014 season, the Canadian’s rookie year. The Toronto native raced in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda for two years before his graduation to Pro Mazda. Prior to his involvement in the Mazda Road to Indy, Kellett competed in the Ontario Formula Ford Championship as well as multiple karting championships over four years where he was awarded with Rookie of the Year honors and other scholarships for his achievements.

Not only will Kellett be competing full time in the Pro Mazda Championship 2015 title, the Stouffville, Ontario resident will enter his fourth year of Engineering Physics at Queen’s University in Kingston, looking to complete his engineering degree for April 2015.

"It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to join Andretti Autosport for the 2015 Pro Mazda season,” Kellett said. “I anticipate that we will have a successful year, and I am looking forward to the start of the race season! I was able to get to know the Andretti crew at a post-season test where I immediately felt like we were a good fit. They are a very professional team and I feel like we work well together."

“We’ve noticed Dalton as he’s been making his way through the Mazda Road to Indy and have been impressed by his work ethic and consistency over the years,” added JF Thormann, Chief Operating Officer of Andretti Autosport. “Dalton joined us earlier in the offseason for a test and we were pleased to see how well he fit in with our Pro Mazda team. We’re very excited to have he and his family join our Mazda Road to Indy family and expect great things in the 2015 season.”

Kellett will be available for a live question and answer today at 1:00 p.m. ET on his Twitter, @Dalton_Kellett, using #WelcomeDalton.

Andretti Autosport enters its fifth year in the Pro Mazda Championship and sixth year being involved in the Mazda Road to Indy. The Michael Andretti-led outfit continues to be the sole INDYCAR team with squads in Pro Mazda, Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series.

 

 

Andretti, Veach, Butterball team up to feed Hungry Hoosiers

November 17th, 2014

11.17.14 – With Thanksgiving just around the corner, Andretti Autosport teamed up with partner Butterball to giveback to its Indianapolis community in the form of 500 Whole Turkeys. 
 
The company that accounts for 20% of the nation’s total turkey production and the powerhouse motorsports team delivered 500 turkeys to Midwest Food Bank on the city’s south side this afternoon with the help of team owner Michael Andretti, President and CEO of Butterball Kerry Doughty, 2014 Indy Lights driver Zach Veach and its 2014 Indianapolis 500-winning crew. The Butterball Whole Turkeys were distributed to Wheeler Mission, the Society of St. Vincent dePaul and various food pantries across the state’s capital to help feed over 4,500 people this Thanksgiving.
 
"Indianapolis and the surrounding communities serve as the heart and soul of Indy car racing,” Andretti Autosport Chairman, President and CEO Michael Andretti said. “The people of Central Indiana provide a supportive fan base necessary to the growth and health of our sport. My wife Jodi and I are happy to now call Indianapolis our home, and I am honored to be here today with Butterball to give back to the community that has done so much for us.”
 
Midwest Food Bank helps gather and distribute food to not-for-profits and disaster sites around Indianapolis with additional locations in Illinois and Georgia. One in six Hoosiers are food insecure, and Midwest Food Bank is able to help over 550,000 Hoosiers in one month due to its partners and volunteers. The southside organization is projected to deliver over $25 million worth of food in 2014.
 
Images can be found on the INDYCAR Media Site for all accredited media at www.media.indycar.com.

 

Season Review: Scott Speed

November 17th, 2014

11.14.14 (via RedBullGlobalRallycross.com) – The birth of Scott Speed’s Red Bull GRC career came about almost as a happy accident—after he won last April’s X Games Brazil in the series’ “Star Car,” he impressed so many people so quickly that he ended up taking over the ride all season long. After finishing fifth in 2013 points, Michael Andretti snapped Speed up as one of the two drivers for his new Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross squad, and expectations entering the season were limitless.

When all was said and done, Speed took third place in series points, but depending on which statistics have the most value to you, he was the best driver out there.

Only Speed competed in all 10 finals in 2014, including the six-car main event in X Games Austin. He led the series in victories with three, taking the top step of the podium in the first two races of the season at Top Gear Festival Barbados and Austin, plus the first leg of the Los Angeles doubleheader. He even led the series in pole positions with three (New York, Los Angeles II, and Las Vegas), and qualified either first or second in seven of 10 events.

And he did all this despite not competing in the team’s new Beetle until the season finale.

Speed and his team showed incredible resilience when they were tested all year long. In DC, freak engine issues kept him out of qualifying and two rounds of heats, contributing to the erosion of much of his points lead. He had to advance to the main event through last chance qualifiers in Charlotte, Daytona, Los Angeles II, and Seattle, going a perfect four for four in LCQs.

Then, in Las Vegas, an aggressive cut across the course from the outside front row saw Speed run into Bucky Lasek and would have eliminated both cars if not for a red flag. When the field was reset, Speed was allowed to rejoin the field from the back of the grid, but picked off cars with ease until reaching Lasek in second, and held third until eventual champion Joni Wiman got by both drivers in the joker.

In all honesty, one error in New York was the only thing that kept Speed from this year’s championship. That weekend, Speed and Nelson Piquet Jr. entered the main event tied for the championship lead. After a red flag, the team made the mistake of pulling the car into their tent for unapproved repairs. Though pulling into the tent itself can lead to a penalty, the actions taken while inside were the determining factor in the call; the only repairs that can be undertaken during a red flag in the main event are refueling, cosmetic repairs, damaged tire or wheel replacement, and refilling the water reservoir.

Speed had finished second in the race, giving him a five-point lead with Piquet third. The revised result saw Speed plummet to ninth, as he was disqualified from the point of the illegal repairs. The penalty led to a 40-point swing (he lost 35 while Piquet gained five) that removed him from the championship lead; if not for the penalty, he would have won the title by three points in Las Vegas.

With the new Beetle ready to go for the entire 2015 slate, don’t be surprised to see more of the same from Speed at the front of the grid. And with this year’s mistakes firmly behind the entire VARX squad, mark the ex-Formula 1 star down as a championship favorite for next year.

 

Read more here…

 

Postseason profile: Ryan Hunter-Reay

November 13th, 2014

11.13.14 (via IndyCar.com) – The cast: Race engineer – Ray Gosselin. Race strategist – Michael Andretti. Chief mechanic – Josh Freund.
 
Twitter: @RyanHunterReay, @FollowAndretti
 
The car: No. 28 Honda, DHL primary sponsorship
 
The driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay turns 34 on Dec. 17. … He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with his wife, Beccy, and son, Ryden. He recently was inducted into the Broward County Hall of Fame. He'll compete in December in the Race of Champions in Barbados for the second time. … Hunter-Reay earned the 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series title and in May won the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race for the first time in an exciting dash to the finish.
 
Season finish: Placed sixth in Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings – one spot better than 2013. He’s been in the top seven of the standings each of the past five years.
 
The gist: Hunter-Reay, who completed his fifth season with Andretti Autosport, signed a three-year extension with the team in July. DHL also extended its sponsorship package. … He has started 169 Indy car races since 2003 (when he won at Surfers Paradise to become the first American rookie driver to win a Champ Car race in more than 20 years). … His three victories tied champion Will Power for most during the season. Hunter-Reay’s race strategist and longtime team director Moyer recently departed to join Team Penske as its competition director.
 
Season stats: Hunter-Reay qualified for the Firestone Fast Six in the first four races, earning the pole at Long Beach and starting on the second row in the other races. The efforts led to victory at Barber (second year in a row) and runner-up finishes at St. Petersburg and in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He led 51 of the 80 laps at Long Beach but contact with 24 laps left relegated him to 20th place. … He followed with the Indianapolis 500 victory after qualifying 19th to sit atop the championship standings. He then hit a three-race skid in which 16th was his best finish. Consecutive top 10s at Houston and a stirring victory at Iowa Speedway after starting 13th got Hunter-Reay to third in the standings. The next four races produced one top-10 finish, though he qualified in the top five in three of the events, and he closed with a runner-up finish at Sonoma and 16th at Auto Club Speedway. … Overall, had six podium and nine top-10 finishes. … Led seven races for total of 195 laps to crack 1,000 laps led in his career. … Was running at the finish in 13 of the 18 races.
 
Year over year: 2013 best qualifying first at Barber, Sao Paulo and Mid-Ohio (5.4 average), best finish first at Barber and Milwaukee (11.6 average). 2014 best qualifying first at Long Beach, best finish first in Indianapolis 500, at Barber and Iowa.
 
 
He said it: “It was a really strong season for us. We just lacked some consistency. It was a struggle at times; it was frustrating knowing that we had the car to win and we just didn’t seal the deal. But we were running up front, we have the ‘500’ under our belts, and now with a three-year deal being back home with Andretti Autosport we can challenge for more championships.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

Red Bull GRC: Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross hits key youth market

November 13th, 2014

11.13.14 (via MotorSportsTalk) – With the Red Bull Global Rallycross season now in the books, it’s worth noting how one of the top teams from the Verizon IndyCar Series has diversified into the championship as a way of both expanding its business and hitting a key new market.
 
Andretti Autosport – or Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross as the team is known in GRC – had a driver in contention for the GRC title heading into the Las Vegas finale (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET, NBC) in the form of Scott Speed.
 
Speed’s a fascinating case study of what GRC can provide. The last American driver to start a Grand Prix in F1, Speed was later replaced by a then-upstart named Sebastian Vettel in 2007, and headed back stateside for NASCAR. A handful of challenging seasons in stock cars followed and seeking a third career reinvention, Speed then headed to GRC, where he became an instant winner.
 
With Andretti, new partner 7UP and teammate Tanner Foust – renowned for his career of TV presenting, rallying and generating buzz among a younger demographic – Speed was in the perfect place and got the year off to a great start with wins in the first two races.
 
Their presence added to the series, and it was something both Michael Andretti and John Lopes (president, Andretti Sports Marketing) have extolled as part of the company’s greater long-term strategy.
 
“This side is really important,” Andretti told MotorSportsTalk in an interview from New Orleans over the weekend. “Just finishing GRC, and having Kuala Lumpur with FE (FIA Formula E) in a couple weeks, it’s becoming a year-round thing for us. It’s important to stay diversified, and we need to stay in the news.”
 
Speaking specifically to GRC, Andretti said it’s hitting the youth market more than IndyCar is at the moment.
 
“Both have a lot of very positive buzz; I’m very bullish on both of them,” Andretti said. “Both series are going after the demographic, which we’re all starving to get, which is millennials. To me being in the racing business, that’s very important. We need to be in series that are hooking young guns, and following the sport for many years to come.”
 
 
 
 
 
 

Postseason profile: Munoz makes his mark

November 6th, 2014

11.6.2014 (via IndyCar.com) – The cast: Race engineer – Garrett Mothersead. Race strategist – Paul “Ziggy” Harcus. Chief mechanic – Rolando Coronado.

 
Twitter: @CarlosMunoz034, FollowAndretti
 
The car: No. 34 Honda, Cinsay, AndrettiTV.com primary sponsors
 
The driver: Carlos Munoz turns 23 on Jan. 2. … He was the youngest full-season Verizon IndyCar Series driver in 2014. … From Bogota, Colombia, he resides in Miami. … He received Colombia Driver of the Year honors following the 2013 motorsports season.
 
Season finish: Munoz placed eighth in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings and earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award.
 
The gist: Munoz competed in three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2013 – starting and finishing second in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in an Andretti Autosport-prepared car – and driving for Panther Racing (substitute for injured Ryan Briscoe) at Toronto and Andretti Autosport (substitute for ill E.J. Viso) at Auto Club Speedway. Gained seven positions relative to his starting spot to finish 17th at Toronto — his first street course race. He also competed in the Indy Lights race the same day (finished fourth). … He placed third in the 2013 Indy Lights championship for Andretti Autosport, with four victories and eight top-five finishes overall in the 12 races. He placed fifth in Indy Lights in 2013 – his first year racing in the States – with two victories.
 
Season stats: Recorded three podium finishes and five in the top five overall. … Qualified seventh in the first (St. Petersburg), third (Barber) and fifth (Indianapolis 500) races of the season and sixth in race seven (Belle Isle2). Best qualifying was third on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway tri-oval, which also tied his season-best finish of third (matched at Long Beach after qualifying 11th and Houston1 after qualifying 23rd). … Was running at the finish in 13 of the 18 races.
 
Year over year: 2013 best qualifying second for Indianapolis 500, best finish second in Indianapolis 500 (competed in three races). 2014 best qualifying third at Pocono Raceway (10.5 average), best finish third at Long Beach, Houston1 and Pocono (12.6 average).
 
He said it: “It was a hard season mentally and physically for all the drivers, the stress and I only thought about racing. Though it was a short season, it feels like it was a long season. I had some top-10 finishes and think I showed what I can do. I can be really fast on all kinds of tracks. I have to learn from my mistakes for next year to fight for the championship.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Scott Speed gets his own VW Beetle for Red Bull GRC season finale

November 5th, 2014

11.3.2014 (via MotorSportsTalk) – Andretti Autosport is bringing in the Beetle for their Red Bull Global Rallycross title contender, Scott Speed.
 
The former NASCAR and Formula One racer has earned three victories this season driving the No. 77 Volkswagen Polo and is one of four contenders with a chance to take home the championship in Wednesday’s season finale at Las Vegas.
 
But instead of sticking with the Polo for the final battle, Speed will drive VW’s latest version of the Beetle. The car made its 2014 debut in Los Angeles with Speed’s teammate, Tanner Foust.
 
“We’ve driven it enough to feel more confident with this,” Speed told the series website. “Obviously, we’d like to have had more testing with it before we bring it out in race circumstances, but we feel like our odds are better with this than with the Polo.
 
“I think everyone here is just happy to get working on what our future is, and that’s this car, which hopefully gets off to a good start.”
 
Down 29 points in the championship to leader Joni Wiman, Speed will need help in order to emerge with the GRC crown. But the American driver isn’t worrying about that scenario, and is simply keeping his focus on taking the checkered flag this week in Sin City.
 
“As far as championships are concerned, if we walk away from there with four total wins and the Championship winner has no wins, then we’ll still feel pretty good about ourselves and the year we have had,” he said in a team release – perhaps referencing the fact that two of the four championship hopefuls, Wiman and Nelson Piquet Jr., have not yet won a race this season.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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