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Notes: Andretti To Remain With Honda

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 1 2017

Driver Takuma Sato and team owner Michael Andretti toast their victory in the 2017 Indy 500. The team won the 500 with Honda power.

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. _ Andretti Autosport, winner of three of the last four Indianapolis 500s, will continue to compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2018 with Honda power as part of a multi-year agreement.

The announcement by Michael Andretti, CEO of Andretti Autosport, ended speculation that Andretti’s organization was preparing to switch to Chevrolet twin-turbocharged V-6 power next season, when sanctioning body INDYCAR introduces its universal Dallara chassis/aero kit.   

“It’s no secret that we’ve been weighing this decision for a while now,” Andretti said in a statement released Thursday in Indianapolis. “We’ve had strong relationships and have marked milestones with both manufacturers, but we’re pleased to continue our Honda partnership. We have a great history of success with Honda and I have no doubt that together, our collection of achievements will continue to grow.”

Andretti has captured three series championships with Honda (2004, 2005, 2007), as well as five Indianapolis 500 victories (2005, 2007, 2014, 2016, 2017). Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 2014 Indy 500 for the organization, while Alexander Rossi won the 2016 edition in his first start at IMS. Veteran Takuma Sato outran three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves of Team Penske last May in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

INDYCAR teams are scheduled to begin preparations for Sunday’s second annual INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen Friday morning with the first of a pair of practices around Watkins Glen International’s 3.37-mile/11-turn natural terrain layout. Qualifying on Saturday will set the field for Sunday’s 60-lap/202.2-mile race.

Since its inception in 2003, Andretti Autosport has captured 56 IndyCar Series victories _ 47 with Honda power. 

“We’re extremely happy to continue our successful partnership with Michael Andretti and Andretti Autosport,” said Art St. Cyr, president, Honda Performance Development. “As Michael stated, his team has played a major role in our success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including victories at three of the last four Indy 500s. In addition to success at Indianapolis, 47 of Honda’s 225 Indy car victories through the years have been scored by Andretti Autosport. Together, we’re looking forward to adding to this already impressive total in the future.” 

Honda has been a fixture in North American open-wheel racing since 1994 and has played an active role in the growth of Indy car racing _ as both a Manufacturers’ Championship competitor and single engine supplier _ since joining the series in 2003.

With his powertrain confirmed, Andretti plans to focus on setting the team’s 2018 driver lineup. Andretti confirmed in an interview with the Indianapolis Star this week that Sato had signed a contract with Honda-powered Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to team with Graham Rahal starting in 2018. Sato joined Andretti Autosport last offseason, when A.J. Foyt Racing switched from Honda to Chevrolet power.

Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion, and third-generation racer Marco Andretti already are contracted through the next season. The team reportedly will confirm and announce its remaining drivers soon.

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Texas-based A.J. Foyt Racing spent the week preparing its cars for Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly at the team’s facility in Speedway, Ind., as Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Houston and Southeast Texas.

The homes of team-owner Foyt, his family and crew have not been damaged by Hurricane Harvey with the exception of one crew member who did sustain some flooding. Preparation of the ABC Supply Chevrolets driven by Munoz and Daly in Speedway, Ind. previously had been planned due to the northern swing in the schedule that saw the series compete at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Gateway Motorsports  Park in Madison, Ill., outside St. Louis on consecutive weekends.

Foyt and son Larry could not get to their homes in the Houston area, so they spent the week in Indianapolis prior to leaving for the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York.

“It’s absolutely terrible what’s going on in Texas,” said A.J. Foyt, whose team is based in Waller, Texas. “I’m 82-years-old and in my whole lifetime, I’ve never seen anything like this. I remember Hurricane Carla was bad but nothing like this. I just can’t believe the water is still so high. I’ve been very lucky because I had very little damage. So far none of my homes have gotten under water and I thank God for that.

“I just feel sorry for all the poor people who weren’t as fortunate. A lot of people are in a lot of trouble, and too many lives were lost. But Texas will come back from this. It’s going to take a long time and a lot of money, but we will rebuild. Texans are tough.”

Larry Foyt, who as president of Foyt Racing is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the team, echoed his father’s concern.

“It’s been tough for all of us,” Larry Foyt said. “It’s been stressful watching the images on television and all of us with our families at home. There was just no way for us to return home because the airports (Houston Hobby and Intercontinental) were closed. Thankfully, the majority of our guys had no damage and the families are fine. We did have one Houston shop-based person who has a little water in his home but he was home because he doesn’t travel so he was there to deal with it. We were very fortunate unlike many others.

“It’s been amazing to watch Texas show her true spirit as first responders, friends and neighbors have been risking their own lives to save others. My thoughts and prayers are with all my fellow-Texans.”

Meanwhile, Foyt Racing and INDYCAR have combined to engage the racing community in the relief effort for the thousands affected by Hurricane Harvey. Starting Saturday, t-shirts with a logo featuring the hashtag #Race4Houston emblazoned on the state of Texas will be sold at Watkins Glen International in the Official INDYCAR Merchandise Tent. Munoz and Daly will be signing merchandise at the tent from 1:15-1:45 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday. T-shirts also can be purchased online at http://shop.ims.com/2017-race-4-houston-tee/.

Net proceeds will benefit the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in response to the many citizens and companies asking how they can help. The fund is being administered through the Greater Houston Community Foundation. Direct donations also can be made on the GHCF.org website.

Hurricane Harvey is on-track to becoming the costliest disaster in American history at $160 billion, according to an estimate by weather firm AccuWeather and reported by USA Today.

To raise awareness of the charity, Foyt Racing also is producing decals featuring the #Race4Houston logo, which will be carried on their No. 14 and No. 4 cars for the final two races of the season. Smaller decals will be made available to Verizon IndyCar Series teams wishing to participate in the awareness campaign.

“We’re very appreciative of INDYCAR joining in with us to help our fellow-Texans,” Larry Foyt said. “The racing community truly is a family and when they get behind a cause, they can do great things. The devastation in Southeast Texas is beyond comprehension but letting race fans know where they can donate money will help raise the much needed funds for those who have been hit so hard.”

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 1 2017
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