Kanaan Leaves Andretti
One of the highest profile team/driver relationships in open wheel racing has ended.
Andretti Autosport and driver Tony Kanaan announced Friday that they have reached an agreement to terminate their current multi-year contract. Kanaan has been released from his duties as an IZOD IndyCar Series driver at Andretti Autosport and allows him to sign with another team, effective immediately.
Details of the agreement will not be disclosed, a statement from the team said.
“It is difficult to believe that Andretti Autosport and Tony Kanaan will no longer be competing together, but that is now a reality with the signing of this agreement,” Michael Andretti, president and CEO of Andretti Autosport said.
“When 7-Eleven notified us that they would not be returning as the primary sponsor of Tony’s car in 2011, we were left with a very challenging situation. Given the timing of that notification, we felt it was important to give Tony the freedom to review his options outside of Andretti Autosport. We understand firsthand his value as a driver in this series and we did not want to prevent him from furthering his career in the event we could not arrive at a reasonable solution for him for 2011. Today we agreed that the best option for both Tony and the team is to allow him the freedom to sign with another team.
“Personally, I want to thank Tony for all the effort and passion he shared with our race team and the fans during our eight seasons together and I am proud of what we accomplished. Tony deserved a chance when we signed him prior to the 2003 season and he made the most of that opportunity. He brought us our first pole, our first race win and our first championship. We were always a contender to win the Indianapolis 500, and while I’m disappointed we were never able to do that together, I am confident that Tony will win it before his career is over.
Kanaan had driven for the team since it formed as Andretti Green Racing in 2003. He won the IndyCar Series championship in 2004 for Andretti. He won 14 races for the team.
“I want to thank Michael Andretti and everyone at Andretti Autosport for eight years together,” Kanaan said. “We created some great memories that I will always cherish and we have much to be proud of.
“I personally want to thank my guys for all their hard work over the years and for always believing in me. This is a team sport at the end of the day and I’ve considered it a pleasure to have you guys on my team.”
At the same time, the team announced it has signed a deal that keeps the American driver Ryan Hunter-Reay with the team through the 2012 season.
The parties agreed to the terms of the new contract the night before this year’s Indianapolis 500, and with today’s announcement, Hunter-Reay and the team enter the off-season with their future together certain.
Hunter-Reay enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2010 that was highlighted by a popular win at the Grand Prix of Long Beach and a career-best seventh-place finish in the series standings. Hunter-Reay’s season also included a runner-up finish in the season-opening Sao Paulo Indy 300, three podiums, six top-fives and 12 top-10 finishes in 17 starts.
The sponsors of Hunter-Reay’s 2011 IndyCar effort will be announced in the near future.No Comment