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Ryan Hunter-Reay on his championship defense and the 2013 IndyCar title contenders

October 15th, 2013

10.15.13 (via – There was a time when Ryan Hunter-Reay's career comprised mainly barren plains. Yet from midseason 2011 until midseason this year, he saw the IndyCar world from an elevated position, and in 2012, he got the view from the mountain top. And that sultry night in Fontana last September, many rejoiced with Ryan because 1) his route to the top had demanded talent, resilience and fortitude beyond the understanding of most of his peers, and 2) winning the IndyCar title was a long-held dream and he'd made it come true.
“I'm pleased for Ryan for three reasons,” one experienced IndyCar paddock member remarked last winter. “One, this is what he wanted to win since he was a kid, so it's cool to see him achieve it. Two, I think as an American, IndyCar can do a lot with him promotionally through the off-season and all next year, so the series will benefit from that. And three, I don't think Andretti [Autosport] are going to be so strong again so this may have been his only chance…”
Agreed on point one: there was spontaneous joy etched across Ryan's face that night and even the following day he (understandably) could hardly stop himself smiling. He was the picture of contentment. On the second point, sadly, the publicity-seizing opportunity has been squandered: even RHR himself admits to being shocked at how few demands the series has made during his time as champion.
As for the third point, regarding his team's prospects, many of us agreed…and were then made to feel pretty foolish for the first half of this season. Ten races in, Andretti Autosport had won precisely half. Remarkably though, now, with 18 races down and just one to go, those five victories – three for James Hinchcliffe, two for Hunter-Reay – are still AA's total victory tally in 2013. Although Hunter-Reay's season-long performance hasn't featured the wild oscillations race to race that Hinch has experienced, nor has it featured the kind of consistency that we'd seen from the No. 28 car the year before. And that's what has made the difference between nailing a second straight title and scrapping for fourth or fifth.
“We've had five mechanical or electrical problems,” observes Hunter-Reay, a week before he relinquishes his crown, “and you can't win the title that way. But I don't want to sound like I'm complaining about the chance I've been given at this team. I'm still really happy. It's just been unfortunate how things have gone and yeah, ultimately it's cost us.”
Indeed. Ask any racing champion and he'll admit to a little luck somewhere in his season, whether it's having a yellow flag fall at the right time to work with his pit stop strategy, or the out of control car that just missed him in a Turn 1 pile-up, or the mechanical problem that occurred in Sunday morning warm-up rather than the race itself. It's rare that the title actually hinges on such matters, but they're vagaries of fortune that can switch knife-edge moments from “If only…” into “Thank God!,” and turn rueful into grateful. And it's those sorts of issues that have gone against the triumvirate of Hunter-Reay, race engineer Ray Gosselin and team owner and strategist Michael Andretti.
What must be doubly annoying for them is that, looking at this truly peculiar 2013 IndyCar season, if any driver/car combo as fast as Hunter-Reay/Andretti had also been consistent, the title could have been sewn up two or three races ago. True, Chip Ganassi Racing turned their fortunes around midseason with that Sebring test, and Team Penske have also improved. But the very fact that Ganassi's Scott Dixon has been able to leap into a commanding lead of the championship despite a fairly forgettable first half of the season, and despite being classified 15th and 19th at Sonoma and Baltimore, respectively, suggests the 2013 title was there for the taking.
“Oh, I hear ya,” agrees Hunter-Reay. “I think everyone at some point has shot themselves in the foot this year – and more than a few times. Everyone except Helio, I guess. For us, I think of things like the flat tire in Brazil, where we looked like we could have won and instead I end up outside the top 10. “And then three times I got ran into, as well…”

Viso carries Venezuelan flag through program

October 14th, 2013

10.14.13 (via – E.J. Viso makes it a priority to watch a portion of both Pro Mazda Championship races at Houston, frequently checking the lap monitor in the Andretti Autosport pit to gauge the progress of a particular driver.

Viso, who also competed on the 1.634-mile, 10-turn circuit at Reliant Park in the two 90-lap IZOD IndyCar Series races, is carrying the banner for protégé Diego Ferreira through Team Viso Venezuela. The initiative, loosely started about seven years ago and solidified in the past two years, promotes bringing young talent to compete in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with the aid of Venezuelan supporters.

“I come from a beautiful country and to give back energy and to help talent coming from there, to help someone be the next generation star is a dream,” says Viso with a nod to National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Sebastian Saavedra of Colombia and Oriol Servia of Spain are other Hispanics competing in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

“We’ve been through many political, financial difficulties, but I’ve never let go of the love for my country and I’m a big supporter,” continues Viso, who drives the Team Venezuela/PDVSA/CITGO car for Andretti Autosport. “I am a lover of my country and, in a way, I think that my country feels that and that’s the way it thinks back at me. This is why my career will be 23 years of consecutive racing. This is saying that we’ve been doing something right.”

Ferreira, 19, finished second in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires standings for Juncos Racing. Viso also is representing countrymen Camilo Schmidt and Bruno Palli, both of whom competed in Pro Mazda in 2012, in addition to Diego Borelli and Sebastian Fernandez, who are competing in karting in Europe. There’s also an indirect association with Jorge Goncalvez, who is sixth in the Firestone Indy Lights standings heading into the season finale Oct. 19 at Auto Club Speedway.

“In a way, I’m even doing this more for my country than the kids,” Viso says. “Don’t get me wrong, they are youngsters coming up who love racing. I see it differently as the future of my country and I see my country as the place that I love. I see giving back to my country will be through them, so I want to teach them the fundamentals and give them all the coaching and ideas I can. I’m pretty sure they’ll go further.”


Read more…




Don’t Miss Out: Week of October 14, 2013

October 14th, 2013

10.14.13 – Want in on the action? This is the place to find where you can see the Andretti Autosport drivers in action OFF the track. Be sure to show us your photos by sending them to our Twitter – @FollowAndretti or Facebook. (All times are in PACIFIC Time Zone)






E.J. Viso at Neiman Marcus
6550 Topanga Canyon Blvd,
Woodland Hills, 91303
@ 5 – 7 p.m.


Marco Andretti at Albertson's
8850 Foothill Blvd,
Rancho Cucamonga, 91730
@ 4 – 6 p.m.


Zach Veach Q&A
INDYCAR Fan Village
@ 3:15 p.m.

Zach Veach & Carlos Munoz
Firestone Indy Lights Autographs
INDYCAR Fan Village
@ 3:30 – 4 p.m.


Ryan Hunter-Reay, E.J. Viso,
Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe
Chevy Q&A
Chevy Display in INDYCAR Fan Village
@ 12:45 p.m.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, E.J. Viso,
Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe
IZOD IndyCar Series Autographs
INDYCAR Fan Village
@ 1 – 2 p.m.

2012 title illustrates Hunter-Reay’s mindset

October 14th, 2013

10.10.13 (via – Returning to Auto Club Speedway for a manufacturer test Sept. 24, the accomplishments of 53 weeks earlier were momentarily relived by Ryan Hunter-Reay.
The Andretti Autosport driver, who entered the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships season finale on the 2-mile oval trailing championship front-runner Will Power of Team Penske by 17 points, was spurred to a fourth-place finish that delivered his first series title by a scant three points.
“When I was walking into the (media center), I was remembering making some laps after I won it. I have some great memories of that moment. I definitely took everything in," he said. "(The test day was) not as much fun as the memories that I have of this room."
Interviews came in rapid succession in the glare of TV lights, with Hunter-Reay hugging the Astor Cup, following the edge-of-your-seat contest, which was a microcosm of his season. Seventh in the championship standings following the June 9 race at Texas Motor Speedway, Hunter-Reay rattled off three consecutive victories to grab the points lead by 34. He was supplanted by Power at Mid-Ohio in early August, who extended the margin to 36 entering the penultimate race at Baltimore.
A victory by Hunter-Reay on the street circuit cut the gap to 17. Combined with Power's early race crash and his fourth place, an elated and humble Hunter-Reay visited the media center at Auto Club Speedway.
"I always believed that if I got the right opportunity and worked hard enough that I could be in this position or I could be in the position to win races," Hunter-Reay said. "But then you go from wining races to competing for a championship, and that comes with another level of consistency. That comes from the contiuity and a team that believes in you."

Marco Andretti: DPS United Way Campaign

October 7th, 2013

IZOD IndyCar Series driver, Marco Andretti and Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) Executive Vice President of Supply Chain Derry Hobson presented a donation to United Way and UW Houston president Anna Babin on Saturday at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.

Andretti, member of the legendary Andretti racing family, serves as the honorary chairman of the DPS United Way campaign that runs through Tuesday with the goal of raising $2.5 million for the cause. Marco made the $10,000 on behalf of Michael Andretti and the team's drivers and executives.

Garett Grist: Canadian karting guru

October 2nd, 2013

10.2.13 – Andretti Autosport USF2000 driver Garett Grist has been keeping busy between his first career win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August and his fourth podium of the year clinched at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca earlier this month: The 18-year-old racer has gone back to his karting roots to coach a young racer, Gianfranco Mazzaferro, in the Rotax Max Junior class at the ASN Canada FIA Canadian National Karting Championships hosted at Goodwood Kartways just north of Toronto, Ontario Canada.

Garett, who holds the 2009 Canadian National Championship title in the Rotax Max Junior class, won at the very same facility where he coached Mazzaferro to victory. Both Gianfranco and Garett were rookies in the junior class when they each won the title in their respective championships at Goodwood.

“Goodwood means a lot to me because winning junior myself then coaching the winning driver in junior a few years later when the Canadian Nationals returned to Goodwood was a great feeling,” Grist said.

The USF2000 race winner and Mazzaferro will next head to New Orleans for the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals taking place in early November, the first time in the 14-year history of the event that it will be run on US soil. Grist knows a bit about being a rookie at the worldwide final – GG competed for the world title in Egypt (2009) and Italy (2010).

“It is the best of the best from Rotax Max Challenge series around the world, and it’s an event you can learn a lot from,” Garett noted. “As a rookie at the Grand Finals, I know how Gianfranco is going to feel, and I will be there to help him the whole time. I am really looking forward to his race, and I think he can achieve a great result.”

Before the Grimsby, Ontario native helps his young driver to another victory, Garett will head to Houston, TX for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda Championship doubleheader finale this weekend; Grist currently sits third in the championship points standings.



Zach Veach’s column: Learning the Texas way

October 2nd, 2013

10.2.13 (via – They say everything is bigger in Texas, but that's not the case for the Houston Grand Prix around Reliant Park! With it being a 1.7-mile, 10-turn course, it'll be one of our shortest courses we've ran on this year in Firestone Indy Lights. This means it going to be very physical; the straightaways are pretty much corners as well so you wont have too much time to catch your breath. And with the Houston heat of 90+ degrees it's going to make a great proving ground to see how conditioned drivers are.

It's been over a month since our last race at Baltimore, since then I have had a lot of time to look ahead for the next race. Baltimore was a tough weekend for me as whole, when our race was decided for us just after the start when the electrical coils on the right side of the engine failed exiting Turn 1 on lap 1. After a quick pit stop, the problem was fixed and I was sent back out, but by that time our day was pretty much over. That's racing though, sometimes you're just going to have a bad weekend, and once you take away what you learned from it, there is no sense dwelling on it for too long.

Leaving Baltimore, I knew that the next race on the schedule was Houston, and the one thing I've heard over and over about this place is how tough it can be with the heat and humidity. So I made it my biggest goal to train as much as possible in the heat to prepare myself for that. This idea ranged from hot yoga, sauna weight training, and long distant running during the hottest parts of the day. But with having a month off, the worry of becoming “rusty” in the car grew ever bigger.

So, I was very excited to hear that we had a test planned at MSR Houston only a week before our race. This was going to give me the perfect combination to test seeing how I was conditioning wise, and knock the cobwebs off too to be in top shape for the race.


Read more…




Don’t Miss Out: Week of September 30, 2013

October 1st, 2013

10.1.13 – Want in on the action? This is the place to find where you can see the Andretti Autosport drivers in action OFF the track. Be sure to show us your photos by sending them to our Twitter – @FollowAndretti or Facebook. (All times are in CENTRAL Time Zone)
E.J. Viso appearance
Neiman Marcus
2600 Post Oak Blvd, 77056
@ 6 – 8 p.m.
Ryan Hunter-Reay AutoNation appearance
Chevrolet Gulf Freeway Store
13800 Gulf Freeway, 77034
@ 1 – 2:30 p.m.
E.J. Viso appearance
Location TBA
@ 2 – 4 p.m.
Marco Andretti appearance 
5150 Buffalo Speedway, 77005
@ 4 – 6 p.m.
Ryan Hunter-Reay hosting
The Yellow Party at Reliant Center
E.J. Viso, Marco Andretti
& James Hinchcliffe attending
Reliant Park Stn NB, 77054
@ 7 – 10 p.m.
Zach Veach Q&A
INDYCAR Fan Village Stage
@ 11:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Zach Veach & Carlos Munoz
Firestone Indy Lights Autographs
INDYCAR Fan Village
@ 12 – 12:30 p.m.
Garett Grist, Shelby Blackstock, Matthew Brabham
USF2000/Pro Mazda Autographs
INDYCAR Fan Village
@ 2:30 – 3 p.m.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, E.J. Viso,
Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe
IZOD IndyCar Series Autographs
INDYCAR Fan Village
@ 5:45 – 6:45 p.m.
Matthew Brabham & Shelby Blackstock Q&A
INDYCAR Fan Village
@ 11 – 11:15 a.m.

A Roundtable with the Andretti stable

October 1st, 2013

10.1.13 (via INDYCAR Nation) - No team supports the Mazda Road to Indy like Andretti Autosport. Not content to seek glory in the IZOD IndyCar Series, they are also involved in each rung of the open wheel ladder, from USF2000 through Firestone Indy Lights.

With that in mind, we asked some of Andretti’s up-and-coming drivers from each level of the ladder to give their thoughts on the IndyCar title hunt, the season finale, and their favorite memory of the year so far. We were joined by Zach Veach (Firestone Indy Lights), Matthew Brabham and Shelby Blackstock (Pro Mazda Championship), and Garett Grist (Cooper Tires USF2000) for a quick Q&A on these topics:


Question 1: Which driver do you predict will win this year’s IZOD IndyCar Series championship?

Zach Veach, Firestone Indy Lights: Personally I would like to see Marco Andretti be able to take home his first IndyCar Championship. He's worked extremely hard this year, and I feel like he deserves to definitely be in the fight for it!

Matthew Brabham, Pro Mazda: I predict that Helio Castroneves will win the championship. He has a great advantage in the points over everyone at the moment, and I think he can pretty much taste being the IndyCar champion. So I think he is extremely motivated to push hard in the next three races and clinch his first title.

Shelby Blackstock, Pro Mazda: I think Helio Castroneves will win this year's IZOD IndyCar Series Championship.

Garett Grist, USF2000: I think Helio Castroneves will win the championship, but I wish it was Scott Dixon or one of the Andretti Autosport drivers.


Question #2: Which driver do you think will triumph at Fontana?

Veach: I think we'll see all of the Andretti cars towards the front, but I have to say I think Ryan Hunter-Reay will be one of the strongest at Fontana. Andretti has fast cars on the super speedway, and Ryan showed his pace well last year being able to fight until the end to win the championship.

Brabham: Ryan Hunter-Reay is my pick to win at Fontana. I feel like he’s just out of range of the championship at the moment but has something to prove to everyone being the defending IndyCar champion. I believe at Fontana he will be the one to put it all out on the line and leave nothing on the table. He will be able to take advantage of those thinking too much about their championship; it’s all or nothing for him at the moment.

Blackstock: I think Ryan Hunter-Reay will do very well at Fontana

Grist: I think it’s RHR with the triumph in Fontana.

For the final question and their answers, read more here.

Fan of the Week – Neil Jain

September 27th, 2013

Congratulations to Neil Jain who is this week’s Andretti Autosport Fan of the Week! Neil lists IZOD IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti as his favorite Andretti Autosport driver because of his determination on the track.

Jain attended his first IZOD IndyCar Series race in 2007, when he was only 7 years old. Although he is a newer race fan to the series, Jain has been a lifelong admirer of the Andretti family. “Whenever I hear Andretti, I think of the legacy of some of the most skilled, talented and best sported drivers in all of IndyCar,” Jain comments.

When Jain was introduced to the sport, he was instantly a Marco Andretti supporter. His greatest racing memory was in 2011 when Andretti won the Iowa Corn Indy 250, after leading the pack for 42 laps. Jain is now looking forward to the 2013 season finale in Fontana at the Auto Club Speedway and hoping Andretti can walk away with a win.

Next week the Andretti Autosport crew heads to Houston for another double-header weekend at Reliant Park. Thank you to everyone who submitted a form this week. Be sure to check back next Friday as we select another winner!

As always, thanks for your amazing support.

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