Marco Andretti Set for His 18th 500

Marco Andretti will return for his 18th Indianapolis 500 mile race in May. The number 98 Andretti Autosport car will again carry KULR sponsorship. May 0f 2023 will be third year Andretti has run the race as one off entry. Andretti won the pole for the 500 in 2020.

The field for the 500 is fast approaching 30 cars and should easily reach 33 entries.

This morning’s announcement from Andretti Autosport:

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 17, 2022) – KULR Technology Group (NYSE American: KULR) (the “Company” or “KULR”) will return to the grid of the 2023 Indianapolis as the primary sponsor for the No. 98 Honda of Marco Andretti as the third-generation racer makes his 18th Indy 500 start.  

“It’s great to see a sponsor like KULR continue as a primary sponsor with our INDYCAR program for the second year,” said Andretti Autosport Chairman and CEO Michael Andretti. “The development potential of KULR’s technology is exciting and we’re proud of their commitment to improving performance. We look forward to this special event in May and are happy to have them back with Marco.”  

As pioneers in their respective industries, KULR and Andretti Autosport share a commitment to excellence and progression. KULR has long been a leading developer of next-generation lithium-ion battery safety and thermal management products and services, playing a part in countless customer successes, including the 2020 Mars Rover mission.  

“We are thrilled to welcome back Marco Andretti as a KULR Ambassador as we return to Andretti Autosport for the 2023 Indy 500,” said KULR Technology Group President and COO, Keith Cochran. “Marco authentically embodies the spirit of our brand. His dedication to his craft and the motorsport industry are just some of the reasons we believe he is the perfect person to represent KULR Technology as we continue to expand our energy management platform.”  

KULR served as Andretti’s primary sponsor in 2022 for his 250th INDYCAR career start. They are no stranger to the Andretti Autosport family as they first joined Andretti Technologies and sister team, Andretti United Extreme E in 2021 as the official thermal management and battery safety technical partner.   

Andretti will make his 18th Indy 500 start piloting the No. 98 KULR Technologies / Curb Honda. Andretti has recorded eight top-10 finishes and four top-three results at the famed IMS oval, also claiming pole position in 2020. He will take to the track for Open Testing on April 20-21 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before joining his four Andretti teammates for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile race in May.

Who is the Third Member of Indycar’s Big Three?

Virtually from the beginning of the unified Indycar series in 2008, fans have talked about the Big Three- Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti. Each team has had cycles of success. Penske and Ganassi seem to be far ahead of Andretti the last few years. Arrow McLaren SP seems to have caught up to the tail end of what has been Indycar’s elite trio. Do we still have a Big Three, or is it now the big Four?

Rinus VeeKay’s pole at Barber was the only pole not won by one of the top four teams in 2022.

Arrow McLaren SP is making a big push to join the elite group, and this year they caught up to Andretti. While Penske dominated 2022 with nine wins, Ganassi won four races. The four remaining race wins were split between Andretti and AMSP.

My research of 2022 race results shows that Andretti and AMSP finished in a dead heat in number of poles, podiums, wins, Top 5s, and Top 10s.

AndrettiAMSP
Wins22
Poles33
Podiums55
Top 51211
Top 101817

The slight Andretti edge is due to Romain Grosjean, the third Andretti car. Grosjean had a second place at Long Beach and a seventh place at Barber. The top two at Andretti, Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta, accounted for the rest of the Andretti statistics.

For 2023 Rossi moves to AMSP and joins Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist.The third car should help the team gain ground in the series. Andretti will still have Herta, but the rest of the team consists of two second year drivers, and Grosjean, entering his second full time season.

I can see a shift in who we call the Big Three next year. I wouldn’t mind if there were actually a Big Four and the victories were more spread out among more teams.

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DeFrancesco Happy with Rookie Season, Eager for 2023

Rookie Devlin DeFrancesco has learned a lot and believes he has had a good first year in Indycar. I spoe with the Andretti Autosport driver this morning.

Assessing the season, Defrancesco said,

“You know, I’d say probably a 6.5 out of 10. Last race was a strong showing, for me; the test we had your week and a half ago was very strong for me by the end,. So understandingthe season has just been getting better and better and nothing more to secure two strong finishes.”

While DeFrancesco is happy with his improved qualkifying, he is hoping to translate starting positions into great results.

” I really think it’s all coming. I think this weekend could be a very strong weekend for me. I’m very comfortable with the car now knowing what I need to go faster what I need in certain times, with balance and things like that. And if you look at even the last few test days, we’ve done from start to finish, we don’t seem to get lost anymore. It’s just a constant progression through the day. And that was especially our day here. It’s what it seemed to be. So even our day in Laguna. You know, we started off fairly strong, we try to keep things Things seem to quite work. And we went back to where we we knew we were good in tuned on it. So that’s really been I think, what’s been helping me a lot recently.”

Leasrnuing how to work with the red alternate tires had been a work in progress this season for the rookie.

“Knowing what you need from the black to the red tire is tricky because you don’t get a lot of time on the right tires a lot more front a lot more grip in general. So I think knowing what you can balance and the balance when you have to take is critical and it’s been more often than I have gotten it right this year. But now knowing what I need it’s definitely coming to.”

For the final two races of 2022, DeFrancesco will be happy to match speed with his teammates/

“You know, just know similarspeed to my teammates and their security, this leader circle I know this is what’s important for myself. It’s a form of mentoring for my team and sponsors. “

DeFrancesco, like the rest of us, wishes for a shorter off season so he can apply this season’s lessons.

“100% That’s mainly what I’m looking forward to, you know, it’s a shame the offseason is so long, you know, I wish it wasn’t as long as it was but it’d be good to get into these last two races strongly and just build on this momentum going into next season.”

The 2023 Grid- Clearer and Murkier

Photo: Devlin Defrancesco at Long Beach

Just when you thought Silly Season was over, the NTT Indycar Series grid for 2023 became both clearer and cloudier in the last week.

Devlin DeFrancesco will stay in the 29 car for Andretti Autosport in 2023. He has had a somewhat uneven season, but DeFrancesco has qualified well in several of recent races. He started ninth at Gateway

Colton Herta

Formula 1 rumors have again risen around Colton Herta. Red Bull has made inquiries about his filling one of the Alpha Tauri seats which may soon be vacant. Herta is still shy of the required 40 points for an F1 super license. My guess is he is back in the 26 for one more year. Herta would likely be a reserve driver in F1 in 2023.

The Newest Hottest Driver

I thought it was a foregone conclusion that David Malukas would be back with dale Coyne Racing next year. The rookie has begun to get notice from other teams, and his second place at gateway two weeks ago really cranked up the free agent buzz.

David Malukas

There seems to be great interest from Chip Ganassi Racing, which could have as many as two openings in 2023, depending on the Alex Palou situation with McLaren, and whether Jimmie Johnson returns with Carvana.

This puzzle may not be resolved for awhile. My fear is that Malukas may end up the odd man out. That would be a huge mistake for the series.

Where Do Indy Lights Drivers Fit?

Linus Lundqvist will most likely win the Indy lights championship and have three Indycar races, including the Indianapolis 500, guaranteed. If Malukas moves to Ganassi, could Lundqvist move into the seat at Coyne?

Matthew Brabham and Hunter McElrea are also seeking Indycar rides. Ernie Francis, Jr. may also be looking to move up, at least for the 500.

Indycar in2023 will have the usual problem of too many drivers seeking too few seats. The grid is expected to expand next season, but the driver situation will only improve when the elusive third OEM appears.

Indycar at the Halfway Point- Good Racing, Tight Points Battle

It’s hard to believe the NTT Indycar Series is already at the halfway mark of the season. It has been one of the best first halves I remember. No one is running away with the points lead, the racing has been really good, and one team is in position to play spoiler in the second half. As usual, Team Penske is dominating the stats with five wins in eight races, but Marcus Ericsson from Chip Ganassi Racing leads the standings. Each race has had a different driver, representing five teams, on the pole, something that hasn’t happened since 1961. Here are a few of my thoughts on the season so far.

Team Penske: Strong Return to Form

The team which usually leads the series in wins and poles won just three races in 2021 and had five poles, four by Josef Newgarden. This season the team has won five times, three by Newgarden and one each for Will Power and Scott McLaughlin. The team already has three poles.

Power is second in points, Newgarden third, and McLaughlin has faded to ninth after a strong start.

Josef Newgarden is the only driver with multiple wins in 2022

Newgarden looks to be in a good position to win the championship, just 32 points behind Ericsson and with a lot of momentum following his win last Sunday at Road America. Newgarden is the only driver with more than one win this season.

Eight Interesting Races

In a set of eight races we can normally expect a clunker or two, but I think every race in 2022 has held my interest. There has been more passing than I expected, and plenty of twists and turns with collisions and mistakes to change the complexion of several races.

My two favorite races were the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course and the Detroit Grand Prix. The GMR GP was a wild affair in the rain with teams flipping strategies nearly every lap. This is a much better race when it rains.

The Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit was a beautiful mix of tire strategies. Each of the first four finishers were on a different path.

Andretti Poised for Second Half Run

Aside from Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport has been mostly invisible the past season and a half. Herta has won four races in the past season and a half, but there has not been much else from the team. The trend is beginning to change. Herta won the GMR Grand prix in May, and Alexander Rossi is beginning to return to his old form. Rossi has five top 10s this year, including top fives in the last three races. He won the pole at Road America last weekend, and he has finished on the podium the last two times out. Rossi entered the Indianapolis 500 18th in points and is now 7th.

Rossi on his way to the pole at Road America

The team finish last week of Rossi third, Romain Grosjean fourth, and Herta fifth was its best overall showing in a while. I look for Andretti drivers to be more of a factor in the second half of 2022.

Notes

Some other things to look for staring at Mid Ohio in two weeks:

Will Arrow McLaren SP develop the consistency they seem to be lacking? Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist each have a pole, and O’Ward won at Barber, but we never know which team will show up at any race.

O;’Ward is fourth in the standings, but it seems like he should second or third. Rosenqvist has improved to eighth place, and is driving well enough to save his job, but when they are off they are way off.

Kyle Kirkwood has raised the bar at A. J. Foyt Racing. He has a top 10 finish and has made the second round of qualifying twice. Some of the teams best tracks are on the second half of the schedule, and I look for a couple of decent results before the end of 2022.

Will Scott Dixon win again? The last win for the active career leader in victories was May 1, 2021, 21 races ago. Since that time his teammates Alex Palou and Ericsson have won six times. It has been 17 years since Dixon went through a year without winning at least one race. Mid Ohio or Toronto may be his best two chances. Dixonb has won three times at Toronto and five times at Mid Ohio.

From Andretti Autosport: Kyle Kirkwood to Pilot Andretti Autosport No. 27 AutoNation Honda INDYCAR Starting in 2023

If you’re shocked by this, you haven’t been paying attention. This announcement takes the mystery out of Friday’s team announcement.

The Andretti release:

06.01.22

Andretti Autosport has today announced that NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie and 2021 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire Champion Kyle Kirkwood will pilot the No. 27 AutoNation Honda starting in the 2023 season.

“I couldn’t be more excited to return to Andretti Autosport next year and represent AutoNation and Honda.” said Kirkwood. “Andretti Autosport is a place I’ve called home for years past and I have truly felt like family. I have a ton of loyalty to the team, and it means a lot to have Michael and the Andretti team offer me this opportunity. AutoNation has been doing great work in raising awareness and funding for cancer research. I’m honored to Drive Pink (DRVPNK) next season.”

Kirkwood continued, “I have worked extremely hard this season and will continue to work harder every day for the A.J. Foyt team. I want to thank the entire team at A.J. Foyt Racing for giving me the opportunity to compete in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The group on the No. 14 car have been incredible and I am beyond grateful to them for all the amazing experiences we have been able to share together so far this season.”

AutoNation, America’s largest and most admired automotive retailer, will serve as the primary sponsor for the full 2023 racing calendar as they drive towards $35 million donated in the fight against cancer. As a long-time partner with the championship-winning organization, AutoNation and DRVPNK have appeared on race cars across the Andretti Autosport INDYCAR team since 2014.

“We really enjoyed having Kyle as part of our Indy Lights team and he’s off to a strong start in INDYCAR,” said Andretti Autosport Chairman and CEO Michael Andretti. “I think he’ll bring a fresh perspective and will be competitive. We are looking forward to helping him continue his career growth.

“AutoNation first joined the team eight years ago and we’ve been thrilled to see how their support has continued to grow over the years. We’ve seen a lot of successes both on and off the track and are excited to see what Kyle and AutoNation can do together for the DRVPNK campaign.”

“We are excited to welcome Kyle to the team and for the passion and commitment he will bring to our mission to drive out cancer, through DRVPNK,” said Marc Cannon, AutoNation CXO and EVP. “We would also like to wish Alexander all the best and thank him for his endless efforts to support AutoNation’s mission to drive out cancer over the years.”

With this move, it is confirmed that Alexander Rossi will depart the team at the conclusion of the 2022 season after seven years. Together, Rossi and Andretti have captured seven wins, including the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in Rossi’s rookie 2016 INDYCAR campaign.

“Alexander has been a great contender for us, and we’ve enjoyed having him as part of the team for seven seasons,” added Andretti. “He’s won races and become a leader in the team, but all careers and all teams evolve, and we’ve mutually decided it’s time for each of us to move on. I have no doubt he’ll have a continued, successful INDYCAR career and we wish him the best. In the meantime, we are all working hard to finish the 2022 season strong.”

Julia Steinbrenner Steps into Co-Owner Role at Steinbrenner Racing

Julia Steinbrenner, sister of George Michael Steinbrenner IV, is now co-owner of Steinbrenner Racing along with her brother. Steinbrenner racing began as an Indy Lights team with driver Colton Herta in partnership with Andretti Autosport. The team and Herta moved to Indycar in 2019. For 2022, Steinbrenner Racing owns car 29, to be driven by rookie Devlin DeFrancesco, in partnership with Andretti.

Devlin DeFrancesco testing at Sebring. Photo from Penske Entertainment

George Steinbrenner has assumed a new role with the new York Yankees, and Julia will step in to handle most of the responsibilities of the race program. She spoke to the media yesterday.

Coming into this role was by design, Steinbrenner said.

“It’s something that George and I have talked
about quite a bit, and I’ve been with the Yankees for eight
years and also as the executive director of the foundation
that we founded together.
It kind of was more of a matter not necessarily of if it would
happen but when it would happen and how we would do it
and just kind of letting it happen organically.”

The Steinbrenners have been race fans since they were young, and Julia has been involved with the team since it began.

“… being around for the last several years that
there has been a Steinbrenner Racing has really — I’ve
kind of tried to submerge myself into the sport and I’ve
really grown a new passion for it. I grew up watching it, but
just to really be in it as with anything, when you’re in it and
you can see it and appreciate it, you really grow a whole
new passion for it,” she said.

Steinbrenner hopes that her role as a female owner will encourage more women and girls to get into Indycar. She noted the number of women engineers now in the sport, as well as a female driver, Tatiana Calderon, who will drive the road and street courses this season. Steinbrenner becomes the second woman in two years to own an Indycar team. Beth aretta’s team ran in the Indianapolis 500 last year.

“Yeah, it really just kind of came
together, the stars aligned and it was great timing. I just
love to see it. I love to see it, and I hope to continue to see
it. I would love to see more of it. It’s just awesome. I think
it’s awesome for the sport. It’s awesome for
representation. It’s awesome for the little girls at home like
I was watching INDYCAR my whole life, and to see that
and to see not only things like this where female ownership
but female drivers and female engineers and pit crew and
all these different moving parts, to see females working in
all these different roles is just awesome.”

Steinbrenner continued,

“… there’s so many wonderful women
in the sport. I would love to see more. So if I can even just
for one person be, oh, I can do that and help create that
narrative, and there’s been so many amazing women that
have paved that road for me so that I can be here today, so
if I can help to continue that in any way shape or form so
that we can get some of these really amazing women that I
have met and all the ones I have not met involved in the
sport, I would love to see that.”

Marco Andretti Enters 500; Seeks 250th Career Start

Editor’s note: It is hard for me to imagine an Indianapolis 500 without an Andretti in it. This is good news.

From Indycar:

Marco Andretti will attempt to make his 250th career INDYCAR SERIES start Sunday, May 29 in the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, driving the No. 98 Honda fielded by Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajanian with primary sponsorship from KULR Technology Group.

Third-generation driver Andretti is looking to make his 17th career start and earn his first victory in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” He has eight top-10 finishes, including four in the top three, and won the pole in 2020.

KULR Technology Group (NYSE American: KULR) first joined Andretti Technologies (“ATEC”), the advanced technology arm of Andretti Autosport, and sister team, Andretti United Extreme E, in 2021 as the official thermal management and battery safety technical partner.

The goal of the ATEC partnership focuses on transferring aerospace knowledge onto the racetrack. KULR’s expertise with lightweight, high-performance thermal management solutions through space exploration provides the opportunity to implement new cooling technology, battery cell architecture and testing methodologies within the high-performance and high-power applications across the motorsport landscapes.

“We’ve worked with KULR through Andretti Technologies for over a year now, including last year’s Indy 500 with Marco, and we are thrilled to now welcome them as a primary sponsor to our INDYCAR program,” said Andretti Autosport chairman and CEO Michael Andretti. “The development potential of KULR’s technology is exciting given their expertise in high-performance thermal management solutions and understanding of battery safety. We look forward to this special event in May as Marco celebrates 250 career INDYCAR starts.”

Said KULR President and CEO Keith Cochran: “We are humbled and honored to have the legendary Andretti Autosport racing team represent the KULR brand in the upcoming Indianapolis 500. As the primary sponsor for the No. 98 car driven by Marco Andretti, we are extending our partnership with Andretti Autosport and further demonstrating the breadth of applications for KULR’s technologies.”

Live coverage of the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge will start at 11 a.m. (ET) May 29 on NBC, Telemundo and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Matthew Brabham Returns to Indy Lights with Andretti

Photo from Andretti Autosport

Matthew Brabham will return to Indy Lights, driving the number 83 car for Andretti Autosport. Brabham has spent the last few years driving in Stadium Super Trucks. Andretti as usual has a solid stable of drivers in Indy Lights, including veteran Sting Ray Robb.

The announcement from Andretti Autosport:

01.10.22

Indy Lights veteran Matthew Brabham will return to the Road to Indy ladder system in 2022 with Andretti Autosport as he steps into the No. 83 Indy Lights machine. Brabham and Andretti Autosport have a storied history together competing in both the Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championships. The second-generation driver was crowned the 2013 Indy Pro 2000 Champion (formerly Pro Mazda). Brabham returns to the American open-wheel series with unfinished business as he finished in the top four of the Indy Lights championship in 2014.

“We’re really excited to have Matty back in our Indy Lights lineup,” said Michael Andretti, Chairman and CEO, Andretti Autosport. “He’s always shown natural talent behind the wheel and was a great Road to Indy contender for us in the past. I’m really looking forward to seeing what our Indy Lights lineup accomplishes this year as all of their talents continue to grow.”

Brabham first entered the Road to Indy ladder with the USF2000 Championship in 2012, where he captured the 2012 championship with four wins and 11 podium finishes. The 2012 USF2000 scholarship propelled the Australian-American to the Indy Pro 2000 field where 13 victories, 10 pole positions and 15 podiums led to the 2013 title and the chance to compete in Indy Lights for the 2014 season. Brabham went on to collect one victory, one pole position and 10 top-five finishes in 17 Indy Lights race starts.

“I’m extremely grateful to Michael, JF and everyone who is a part of Andretti Autosport,” said Brabham. “They have given me many great opportunities over the years, including this one. We have accomplished amazing results together. We have won a total of 14 races and a championship in the past. I’m absolutely ecstatic to be back racing full time in a proper open-wheel car again with a top team. I feel it’s where I’ve always belonged. I’m willing to give everything I have at this and more to follow my dream of getting back into the INDYCAR SERIES.”

Brabham completes Andretti Autosport’s lineup piloting the No. 83 Dallara for the 2022 Indy Lights season alongside teammates Sting Ray Robb [No. 2 Dallara], Hunter McElrea [No. 27 Dallara] and Christian Rasmussen [No. 28 Dallara].