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Money, money makes the racing world go ’round. As usual, for many teams there isn’t nearly enough of it.
Andretti Swallows Herta, Spits Chaves Out: In yet another case of contraction for IndyCar teams following the CFH Racing divorce, Andretti Autosport’s absorbed Bryan Herta Autosport, subtracting another team from the grid – not to mention an Autosport. Herta’s tiny, underfunded one car effort will now comprise AA’s fourth car, with former F1 driver American Alexander Rossi as the driver. Rookie of the Year Gabby “Pat” Chaves was unceremoniously dumped despite Herta’s earlier intimations that he’d be back. Obviously the price wasn’t right.
Money, Money: Funding was reportedly the issue at BHA, as was the case with CFHR reverting back to Ed Carpenter Racing this year. For a switch, instead of Michael it’s Herta who makes us ask, “what’s Bryan thinking” in casting his lot with the troubled Andrettis? Perhaps he’s planning a driving comeback and wants to takeover Marco’s seat, given the money and the fact that Marco’s not been using it effectively.
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Phillips Out, Pappas In: In a further shakeup at 16th & Georgetown, longtime engineer Bill Pappas is taking over as VP of Competition, Race Engineering for IndyCar. He’ll be replacing Will Phillips who’s joining Derrick Walker as an ex-employee. Pappas formerly worked for KV Racing, Coyne, RLL and Ganassi, playing a role in Juan Montoya‘s first Indy 500 win back in 2000. Montoya’s car was dominant that day, which really blew especially considering Chip’s was a one off CART team at the time. He’ll report to Competition President “Ol’ Jay Frye,” who’s also new in his position. Pappas’ annual salary wasn’t reported.
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Helio’s New Old Throwback Livery: The 3 car will be looking a lot like the old Panther Racing car driven by Sam Hornish, Jr. at the 100th 500. Helio and Penske last ran the Pennzoil colors in 2014, when Helio finished second behind Ryan Hunter-Reay. Castro-Neves dubbed it the “Yelio Submarine,” yuk-yuk. For the sake of four time Indy 500 winner history, let’s hope he repeats his non-winning performance again this year. More messy IRS money stories aren’t exactly what the series needs.
Photo from telegraph.co.uk
Odds ‘n Trends: An extensive and expensive media campaign marking the countdown to the 100th Indy 500 is underway, with everything from special milk deliveries to fancy new Firestone tires for the event to Graham Rahal going to the Chicago Auto Show. No wonder ticket prices are going up . . . CGR’s rookie Max Chilton from England tested at Sebring Raceway in Florida on Monday. We’re betting the weather was better there than in London . . . An open test for all teams at Phoenix will take place this Saturday in preparation for the series’ return to the desert in March. Presumably even Coyne will be there with Conor Daly – provided “Dollar Dale” decides to pony up the cash.
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IRR’s Not Sold Out: With the IndyCar season rapidly approaching, it’s high time to get your IRR tee shirts. They make tremendous gifts, even if for yourself. It’s either this or a gofundme page, folks. Our staff, although lean and mean, still has to eat.