Chip Ganassi, Team Danica Discuss 2018 Daytona And Indy Possibilities

Danica Patrick

Team owner Chip Ganassi spoke personally with Danica Patrick and her representatives Thursday and Friday about the possibility of fielding cars for her in either the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, or both, but said he doesn’t yet have enough information to determine if participating in her farewell jaunt is feasible.

“I think it’s a great idea for her to do that,” Ganassi said of Patrick ending her racing career at two tracks where she has enjoyed some of her greatest success. “I think it’s a fabulous idea, a fabulous marketing idea, it’s a fabulous opportunity and obviously the business side of the deal has to work. … I’m a long way from saying ‘Yes, I can do that.’”

Patrick has expressed confidence in being able to bring sponsorship to field both ventures. Ganassi said “I would think it would be better to do it with one team.”

The team owner said he has not had time to consider when he’d need a commitment and firm details from Patrick’s camp.

Ganassi fields two-car teams in both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and IndyCar.

One of Ganassi’s Monster Energy Series drivers, Kyle Larson, is a personal friend of Patrick who has in the past expressed an interest in attempting the open wheel classic. Ganassi said he doesn’t know if Larson, who had a breakout four-win season, is still interested but said fielding a third car for him in May wouldn’t preclude partnering with Patrick for a fourth.  That said, Ganassi noted doubling his roster for the Indianapolis 500 is something he would be unlikely to attempt.

“I doubt I would do four,” he said..

The only other team able to field rides in both the Monster Energy Series and IndyCar would be Team Penske, but owner Roger Penske said he has no plans to field five cars at Indianapolis again. Penske boasts a three-car IndyCar roster and will add a fourth in 2018 for three-time race champion Helio Castroneves, who will move the Penske’s sports car program next year.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK! 

Danica Waves Good Bye To NASCAR

Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick said good-bye to racing during a tearful press conference on Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway—but it will be a long good-bye.

“This will be my final season as a full-time driver,” Patrick said between sobs, before revealing plans to finish her career by running two more races in 2018, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.

Though Patrick said details had not been finalized for either race, she indicated negotiations on both fronts have been under way for some time.

“We’re down the line with different facets of moving forward, but nothing’s final yet,” Patrick said. “Hopefully, it will be soon, but things are definitely not set.”

Patrick announced recently she would exit her ride in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford at the end of the season, citing lack of sponsorship. Aric Almirola will replace her in the car next year.

“I feel like this is where my life should be headed, and sometimes we just get nudged there,” Patrick said. “Sometimes it’s big nudges, and sometimes it’s little. But I definitely was faced with situations at the beginning of the year that I’d never faced before. I never had sponsor issues.

“But it made me think about things. And I’m excited about the next phase, trust me.”

It’s appropriate that the Daytona 500 will be Patrick’s last race in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car, given that Daytona is the site of her foremost accomplishment in the series. Patrick won the Coors Light Pole Award for the 2013 version of the Great American Race, the only pole of her Cup career.

She has posted seven top-10 finishes in 189 career Cup starts entering Sunday’s Ford Eco-Boost 400 at Homestead, with a best result of sixth at Atlanta in 2014.

But Patrick grew frustrated with her inability to find the speed necessary to compete with the elite drivers of the sport.

“It’s super competitive,” Patrick said. “It’s twice the field of IndyCars, 40 instead of 20, basically. The cars make a big difference. I feel like there’s a lot out of your control as a driver, and that’s frustrating. I tried every approach I could to figure out how to make the car go fast.

“Do I push people? Do I let them do their job? Do I question them? Do I ask for other things? I tried every approach, and, really, all that ended up happening was I lost my crew chief the first time around with Tony Gibson. I didn’t end up wanting that to happen. So I was like ‘Well, shoot, nothing really worked.’ So here I am.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch Hopes To Win Indy And The Numbers Are In His Favor

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch’s appearance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend involves more numbers than anyone could be expected to remember.

First and foremost, Busch has a chance to win a third straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the 2.5-mile track. No other driver has ever accomplished that feat on the oval—either in Cup or IndyCar Series racing.

In fact, Jimmie Johnson (2008-2009) is the only driver in NASCAR’s top series to win back-to-back races at the vaunted Brickyard. In more than 100 years of IndyCar racing five drivers have won consecutive Indianapolis 500s—Wilbur Shaw (1939-1940), Mauri Rose (1947-1948), Bill Vukovich (1953-1954), Al Unser Sr. (1970-1971), and most recently Helio Castroneves (2001-2002).

Michael Schumacher won four straight Formula One races at the track, but those victories—all for Ferrari—came on the road course, not the oval.

If Busch happens to win the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 on Sunday, he’ll erase another significant number. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota hasn’t won a race in NASCAR’s premier series since last year’s run at the Brickyard, a dry spell that reached 35 races last week at New Hampshire.

“It’s pretty cool to come in here thinking that we have a chance to go for three-in-a-row and, you know, it’s ultimately frustrating in the same breath that, you know, it’s been 365 days since we’ve won one of these things,” Busch said. “It’s certainly hasn’t been from lack of effort or fast race cars…

“It’s just every single week it just seems to be something else that kind of bites us, you know? It’s not the same thing over and over again that we’ve got to fix, so it’s just little things here or there that keep kind of working against us.”

At some point, Busch would also like to become the first driver to win both a Brickyard 400 and an Indy 500—but he’ll have to find a way to run the Indy 500 first. Busch had a deal in place to do the double, until his NASCAR boss intervened.

“I had it done last [time], sold and everything ready to go, and I’ve got a boss that said, ‘No,‘” Busch said.

Busch wouldn’t say specifically who he meant by “boss,” but the person who would approve whether he can run outside of NASCAR would be his team owner, Joe Gibbs.

“The biggest thing that scares my boss is that I’ve never driven those cars,” Busch said. “A Cup car or an Xfinity car or a truck or something like that, I know what to feel and how to feel and when something bad starts to happen, I can straighten it out or normally I can try to fix it. … That’s probably the biggest fear, is just not knowing what those cars do when you get in a bad situation.”

There’s one other number Busch definitely remembers about the Brickyard. Ten years ago Friday, he met his wife Samantha while giving ride-arounds at the speedway.

“I wasn’t very well known, obviously, in the Cup tour then, so it was just kind of fun, and we exchanged numbers there and then I actually didn’t see her again for three months,” Busch said. “But we talked on the phone and she… I finally got her talked into coming to another race…

“So that was a long time ago and from there, (we) just kind of hit it off and have been together ever since.”

Can KyBu get off of the snide and win at Indy?

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Fernando Alonso Completes His Rookie Test At Indy

Andretti Autosport Sheild
FERNANDO ALONSO TEST AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
ROOKIE ORIENTATION TESTING
[05.03.17]

Two-time Formula One World Champion, Fernando Alonso, took the the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval for the first time today after announcing in April he would take his shot at completing his dream and earning triple-crown honors. The McLaren Honda Andretti driver traded in his veteran status for rookie, completing all three phases of the required Rookie Orientation Program before the clock struck noon. Alonso ended his day at IMS with 110 laps completed, turning a top lap speed of 222.548 mph.

With Marco Andretti shaking down the car, Alonso was provided a comfortable set-up for his first try at the iconic 2.5-mile track.

No. 29 McLAREN HONDA ANDRETTI
FERNANDO ALONSO
“(My first time in an Indy car) was fun. I think it was a good way to start to get the speed. It was a little bit difficult at the beginning to reach the minimum, but then on the next stages [the car] felt good. But, yeah, now hopefully we can put some laps and start feeling a little bit of the car because at the moment the car is driving itself, I am not driving the car. I do feel more comfortable [going faster], not because of the speed, but because of the laps. You are already 30 laps in or 40 laps in, so you are able to fine tune and read the lines and up shift, down shift, learn which gear to use in which corner, etc. At the moment everything looks good but now we’ll start the real thing. The feeling of the simulator is quite realistic and you have the first touch – the first impression of how it is going to be, but then the real car is just a unique feeling so when you have to go flat out in the corners it’s not the same in the simulator that it is in the real car. So far, the car has been good; the team is amazingly helpful – everyone, Marco (Andretti) this morning, etc … Running alone I think it is quite okay, we’ll see later on in the next weeks.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Gabby Chaves Partners With Harding Racing For The 101st Indy 500

Image result for harding racing

It’s been a long road for Gabby Chaves since his breakout Verizon IndyCar Series rookie campaign in 2015, but things appear headed in the right direction.

The 23-year-old Colombian was last week announced as the driver for Harding Racing, a new team that will make its debut in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil next month. Chaves was in the No. 88 Harding Racing Chevrolet for the first time Wednesday at the Texas Motor Speedway open test, turning a total of 49 laps.

“This has kind of been one of those things I’ve been looking forward to,” Chaves said. “We’ve had this deal done since January and I’ve been doing all I can to keep it hush-hush. But we’ve been working behind the scenes all that time and I mean most Indy-only efforts will be popping up in May when they are finishing up their cars.

“This shows that these guys have been working tremendously hard for the last three months to make it so we can come out here to Texas, do our shakedown, get through any little hiccups and roadblocks that we need to work through, so that we don’t spend the opening day of practice for the Indy 500 doing all of this. We’ve worked through them and even got a few runs there at the end at speed.

“Just really happy, there are a lot of good guys around me here that definitely give me a good shot of winning this thing.”

Harding Racing will have a technical alliance with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and work out of DRR’s Indianapolis shop in preparation for this year’s race. Team manager Larry Curry will also be on the pit box as Chaves’ race strategist, while Matt Curry will serve as his race engineer.

Although the goal is a solid outing in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the bigger picture is to build the program into something that can compete on the tour fulltime.

“That’s the plan, right? We’re not doing this just to be a ‘one-hit’ wonder,” said Chaves, the 2014 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion who has made 23 Verizon IndyCar Series starts over the past two seasons.

“We want to be in it for the long term. My chats with (team owner) Mike Harding, he’s really passionate about this and he told me he wants to be the next Chip Ganassi. He wants to build the next race-winning, championship-contending team.

“We understand that doesn’t happen overnight, but essentially we’re looking at it long term.”

That plan could get thrust into action soon after the Indianapolis 500 should everything fall the right way.

“Yeah, I think you can expect us to probably show up at some of the other ovals,” said Chaves. “Texas and Pocono come to mind.”

Chaves earned Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season with Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian. Top finishes were within reach, including a phenomenal run at Pocono Raceway when he started 16th and climbed to the front of the field, leading 31 laps before suffering a mechanical failure. Despite not getting the desired results, Chaves benefited from the experience.

“With Bryan (Herta, team owner), I kind of had a team that was based around me,” said Chaves. “It was a rookie year, so we understood the growing pains that came with that, but with that said, we could have won Pocono. We had some really good pace at a couple of other places.

“Whatever it may be, we knew we had that potential and when things fell apart before the beginning of 2016, it left me in a really tough situation where I had nothing to look forward to and nothing to prepare for. All I could do was prepare myself physically to put myself in the best condition possible for when I get that opportunity, which I did with Dale Coyne Racing.”

Chaves joined the Coyne team for seven races, starting with the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but never qualified better than 18th and didn’t finish better than 12th.

“We were very competitive in May,” said Chaves. “We struggled in the race with the conditions, but I think we had a shot at the top 10. After that, though, it never came together for me. I never felt like I either had the equipment or that I was delivering at the level that I know I can because of everything that had been going on in the offseason and how that deal came up very sudden without any preparation.

“It just felt like it wasn’t the right timing. Obviously, being in a car is better than not being, but it wasn’t the right timing or the right situation for me.”

That’s why Chaves feels better prepared this year, even with a new team.

“Being with Harding Racing, we’ve got time, we’ve been preparing for a while and, if I’m honest, I’ve got to look at it as this is my best shot I have ever had of winning the Indy 500.

“If we’re not in it to win it, then why be here at all?”

With the running of the 101st Indy 500 just a few weeks away, the burner on IndyCar activity is about to be turned up to high! The Indianapolis Motor Speedway pit gates will be opening up shortly allowing the teams to prepare for the 101st Indy 500.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Is Determined To Make A Good Showing At Indy

Helio Castorneves
The significance of Team Penske testing twice in eight days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn’t just the track time.  No there is much more to it than just getting the drivers on the  race track!  When the four cars return for Saturday’s session at a Chevrolet test, engineers will have had sufficient time to analyze and decipher the data from the March 24 test and apply that information to the second test.

“The best benefit is we’ve got eight days in between each test,” said Kyle Moyer, Team Penske competition director. “So what we do (at the first test), we can decipher and then come back (on Saturday).

“It’s not like the month of May, where every single day you’re out there running, you’ve got less than 12 hours before you’re back at it so you don’t really have time to look at everything. Here, everybody has their run planned. We came in here (for the March 24 test) with more of a set plan for each car. They’ll run through that set plan, then we’ll go home and decipher all through that, what we’ve tested and what we believe is great, we’ll come back, some of it we’ll re-check, some of it we’ll just add onto.”

Aside from some wind, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden had favorable conditions with unseasonably warm temperatures in the March 24 test, when Team Penske used a team test day to join seven Honda cars for that manufacturer’s test day on the 2.5-mile oval. Saturday’s forecast calls for cooler conditions with highs in the 50s.

When driving for Roger Penske, it’s understood that the Indianapolis 500 is the primary race objective. The legendary Hall of Fame owner has won the race a record 16 times, most recently with Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015.

Penske will bring Montoya back for a fifth entry in May’s 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on the oval and the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course. Castroneves has won the Indy 500 three times, most recently in 2009. Montoya has won it twice (once for Team Penske, once for Chip Ganassi Racing).

Team Penske dominated the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series with 10 victories in 16 races. Pagenaud prevailed five times to claim the series title. Power won four races to finish second. Montoya had the other win in the season opener. Despite going winless, Castroneves finished third in the championship.

But the much-anticipated 100th Indianapolis 500 was a reminder that even the best series team isn’t guaranteed success. Power finished the race in 10th, Castroneves 11th, Pagenaud 19th and Montoya 33rd.

Two tests in eight days is a reminder of how Team Penske is always pushing forward.

Team Penske driving coach Rick Mears, who owns four of the team’s Indianapolis 500 wins, reiterates that every practice lap is important. The more, the better.

“This business is about progress and going forward,” Mears said. “The day you stop doing that is the day you need to get out.

“Anytime you can get in a car and get on the track, from a driver standpoint, that’s my office. I want to make my office as nice as possible. You keep working on the thing because the better it works, the less I have to. That’s the key. Anytime you can get on track, you can test and experiment and try things you might not have to at a race event. You can think outside the box a little bit more.”

Castroneves, who will be entering his 17th Indy 500 in his 20th Indy car season, agreed with his mentor and race spotter.

“You can never stop learning here, every time you come out. It doesn’t matter the temperature, what the weather does to the track, the wind, it’s always about learning something,” Castroneves said. “That’s why I love to be here.”

Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion who has five top-10 Indy 500 finishes in nine tries, including second in 2015, thought the windy conditions from last week’s test were a benefit.

“It’s just nice to be around this place. I feel good about it,” Power said. “It’s kind of hard to learn stuff unless we’re in traffic, but with the wind, that’s made it better because it’s really difficult to hang onto.”

Newgarden, who has three wins the past two years, enjoyed his best Indy 500 last May, when he started second and finished third for Ed Carpenter Racing. Nobody is more excited to be back on this track than him.

“That kind of makes this relaxing, right?” Newgarden said of the two tests. “You can kind of work on what you need to. You don’t have to rush. It just gives us a good preview of what we’re going to be doing when we come back in the month of May.”

Joining the four Team Penske entries in Saturday’s Chevy test will be Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz of AJ Foyt Racing and Ed Carpenter and JR Hildebrand for Ed Carpenter Racing.

With five cars entered into the 2017 Indy 500, Team Penske is surely hoping that it can put one of their cars into Victory Lane and hoist the Borg-Warner Trophy and drink the milk at the end of the day!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Preferred Freezer Services Expands Their Partnership With Ed Carpenter Racing

Preferred Freezer Services announced today an expansion of their partnership with Ed Carpenter Racing and driver JR Hildebrand. Hildebrand’s No. 21 Chevrolet will showcase the white and blue Preferred Freezer Services colors at four Verizon IndyCar Series races this year, including the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500. 2017 marks the fourth consecutive year that the partnership between Preferred Freezer Services and Ed Carpenter Racing has grown to include additional events.

Preferred Freezer Services (PFS), a global leader in advanced design and engineered temperature-controlled warehouses, first teamed up with Ed Carpenter Racing to field a car for Hildebrand in the 2014 Indianapolis 500. The company has supported the 29-year-old’s Month of May program each year since, with all three Indianapolis 500 efforts yielding Top 10 finishes. After much success during his May starts, as well as serving as an indispensable test driver during the summer of 2016, Hildebrand was named as the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet for the entire 2017 season.

“Preferred Freezer Services was a big part of helping me get to running just the Indy 500 with ECR the first year in 2014. We’ve been fortunate to see the program grow and help it expand over the last few years,” stated Hildebrand. “I’m really excited to be able to continue that partnership and have them on board for a few more races this year! It is great to work with these guys again and I can’t wait to kick it off at such an awesome event as Long Beach.”

Hildebrand’s familiar white and blue PFS livery will re-emerge on track as the No. 21 for the first time at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the next stop for the Verizon IndyCar Series. The No. 21 will also run as the Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet at the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500, both contested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. PFS will also adorn the Hildebrand’s car at the Honda Indy Toronto, the only international stop on the 2017 schedule. Additionally, PFS will be an associate on the No. 21 for all remaining races this season.

Preferred Freezer Services offers the most modern, state-of-the-art, full service temperature-controlled warehouses in the United States. PFS operates 35 facilities in nine regions nationwide, with three more scheduled to commence construction shortly. The company has also expanded internationally with cold storage warehouses in both China and Vietnam. Hildebrand and ECR team owner Ed Carpenter will make their annual visit to PFS’s headquarters in Chatham, New Jersey in early May.

Carpenter will also carry the famous PFS polar bear on his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet during the six oval events. “It is great to have Preferred Freezer back and to carry them on our cars all year long,” remarked Carpenter. “It is always ‘cool’ to have the giant polar bear around.  We are proud to see this partnership grow again this year!”

Hildebrand will test the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet today in a private test at Sebring International Raceway. He will be joined by Spencer Pigot, road and street course driver of the No. 20. The duo will compete next at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 12. Carpenter will kick off his 15th season of Verizon IndyCar Series competition on April 29 at Phoenix International Raceway.

TIL NEST TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

JPM Gets Right Back Up To Speed For Indy With A Team Penske Test

Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya stepped out of the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet, took off his helmet, smiled and shrugged as if to say, “Eh, no big deal.”

He had not been in an Indy car since the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway in September, but Montoya’s quick run-through with Team Penske during an open test session today at Barber Motorsports Park wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Despite not driving an Indy car in more than six months, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner wound up fourth of 22 cars that tested.

“I feel like I drove the car yesterday,” Montoya said. “It’s kind of fun. I’ve been out of the car since September, but I feel fine. I have a new crew, new guys, new engineer. It’s working really well.”

The shakedown was in part to keep Montoya fresh as he prepares to race in May at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (May 13) and the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on the hallowed IMS oval. But it also served as the first five-car audition by Team Penske, which fields full-season cars for Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden.

While Pagenaud has taken over a Team Penske Chevrolet given the No. 1 for his 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship, Montoya drove a car with the No. 22 used last year by Pagenaud, including his victory in the INDYCAR Grand Prix.

“If I do well in the Indy GP, I’m going to laugh so hard,” Montoya said. “Simon did so well last year there in the (No.) 22 car.”

Montoya, 41, won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and 2015, spent six years in Formula One and seven years in NASCAR. But when Team Penske hired Newgarden to drive the No. 2 Chevy in 2017, Montoya was moved to a part-time role. Today, he went about the first test without a problem.

“It’s more about us going through changes and understanding what I like and what I don’t and how big of a difference the changes make, so when we get to the Indy road course, we know what to do,” Montoya said. “It’s a good bonding experience for us. It’s fun. It’s nice to be out here. … There’s really no mystery.”

Montoya will team with engineer Raul Prados, who last worked for AJ Foyt Racing. Also working on Montoya’s pit stand is Ron Ruzewski, who worked with Montoya in the past at Team Penske. The No. 22 car crew combined to run a fast lap of 1 minute, 7.8406 seconds (122.051 mph) around the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park road course. It was less than a tenth of a second off the best overall lap clocked by Power.

Speculation has Montoya a front-runner for a projected Team Penske sports car operation, though no program has been confirmed to date. Until any such announcement is made, however, Montoya is focused on the two Verizon IndyCar Series races in May.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Montoya said of the speculation with a grin. “I never know anything. That’s above my pay grade.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Does Kurt Busch Want Another Crack At The Indy 500?

Kurt Busch & Gene Haas
The club comprised of drivers who have won both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 currently has two members – Mario Andretti and A.J. FoytPeriod!

Kurt Busch, who won the Daytona 500 last Sunday, may have his sights set on joining that exclusive clique.

Three of the of the congratulatory texts Busch received after the Daytona win came from the Andretti clan – Mario, Michael and Marco. It was Michael, you’ll recall, who fielded the Andretti Autosport entry Busch drove to a sixth-place finish in the 2014 Indianapolis 500 in his only IndyCar start.

“It’s amazing to have the camaraderie and the ability to have open conversations with legends like Mario Andretti,” Busch said on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I saw Mario’s (text), because his came in early Monday morning. I haven’t talked to Michael about things. I haven’t talked to Marco.

“The emotions of this event, yes, it fits right in when I won in 2014 at Martinsville early in the year. It gives you that calm sense that I can go focus on other things and have the ability to go run theIndy 500. I haven’t talked to Michael. I haven’t reached out to any other team. My focus has been to settle in with Ford and get 2017 underway and to give my full focus to the Stewart-Haas race team.

Though Busch seems eager to try the Indy/Charlotte double again at some point in his career, scheduling obligations are likely to preclude the possibility this year.

“It will be difficult at this point, with a Daytona 500 win, and the emotions and the amount of responsibility that comes with it,” Busch said. “The Ford executives called me and asked, ‘What dates do you have available to come up to Dearborn, Michigan? We want to bring our winning Ford GT drivers from Le Mans and from the Daytona 24 Hours up for a big day at Ford.’

“The schedule is getting full. The month of March, we’re on that West Coast run. I think my first day that anything isn’t scheduled is April 5th or something like that, and that’s on our way out to Texas. It’s a busy time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to run Indy this year, but it’s really neat to have the fraternity of IndyCar drivers reach out to me and celebrate with the 41 car.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Juan Pablo Montoya Returns To Team Penske For The 2017 Indy 500

Juan Pablo Montoya


Juan Pablo Montoya will return to Team Penske for the 2017 Indianapolis 500, team president Tim Cindric confirmed to INDYCAR today. It is currently the only Verizon IndyCar Series race that the two-time Indy 500 winner is scheduled to drive in the 2017 season.

Montoya has won 15 Indy car races in 91 career starts over five seasons. The 41-year-old Colombian drove for Chip Ganassi Racing in CART in 1999-2000 and for Team Penske from 2014-16, with stints in Formula One and NASCAR in between. He won the CART championship in 1999 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and 2015.

Driving the No. 2 Chevrolet for Team Penske in 2016, Montoya finished eighth in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings with a win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Team Penske signed Josef Newgarden to drive the No. 2 car in 2017, leaving Montoya without a fulltime seat with the team. When Team Penske announced the addition of Newgarden last month, Cindric said Montoya was offered the opportunity to drive a Team Penske car in next year’s Indianapolis 500.

Montoya explored options with other Verizon IndyCar Series teams but decided a return to Penske gave him the best chance to win a third Indy 500, according to Cindric, who confirmed the agreement today with the INDYCAR Mobile app. Cindric said details of Montoya’s involvement for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will be announced at a future date.

“He didn’t want to leave the team but wanted to see what else was out there,” Cindric told the INDYCAR Mobile app. “After giving it some thought, he told me the best opportunity was to run Indy with Team Penske, so if the offer still stood, that is what he wanted to do.”

Montoya will complete a Penske armada at Indianapolis that includes the top four finishers in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series standings – champion Simon Pagenaud, second-place Will Power, third-place Helio Castroneves (a three-time Indy 500 winner) and Newgarden. It will mark the first time for Team Penske, whose 16 Indy 500 wins are the most by any team in history, to field five cars at “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“The fact we are going to stay together and try to win Indy together speaks about our relationship between the team and Juan,” Cindric said.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!