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].

DeFrancesco: Indycar Suits My Style More

Devlin DeFrancesco knows what he likes, and he likes drivcing Indycar. The NTT Indycar Series newest rookie met the media this morning. he is excited to move up from Indy Lights. DeFrancesco thinks Indycar’s more aggressive style suits him better than racing in Indy Lights did.

“Honestly, personally, I found
the car suited me much more. I got to grips with it quite
quickly” DeFrancesco said. “Definitely from midday onwards in Sebring I was
already coming to grips with it and then Barber it didn’t take
me that long to get up to speed. I really enjoy the car. I
can’t wait to be in the thing again, and I’m really excited to
get going for next year.”

The Canadian driver has big plans for his first year in the series. He shared those goals.

“There’s much more aero, as well, so able to carry a lot
more momentum speed and be a lot more aggressive in
the medium high-speed stuff, as well, which suits me quite
more. I’m excited to get going racing, try reds out for the
first time, seeing what those do in qualifying. There’s a lot
of stuff that I’m looking forward to doing, and I think there’s
definitely going to be some good results in the pipeline for
2022.

For sure there are going to be
some races where I think we’re going to be very
competitive and at the front, and I’d like to go home with
Rookie of the Year and I’d like to be fighting more towards
the front, especially by the end of the year. That’s
definitely my plan.”

As for which tracks DeFrancesco believes he will be strongest, he named the higher speed road courses and the ovals.

“I’ve always seemed to be very strong at the higher speed
tracks with high-speed corners. Ovals, as well, is
something I’ve taken to quite quickly and seem to quite
enjoy. Definitely the higher speed stuff I’m looking forward
to getting at, especially the ovals, Barber, fast tracks like
that, St. Pete, as well. I was quite quick there in Lights, so
looking forward to getting back there for INDYCAR.”

Like all rookies, we will see if his race craft meshes smoothly with his speed.

Michael Andretti Talks F1, Indy Lights

Michael Andrerti put to rest rumors about his attempted purchase of the Formula 1 Alfa Romeo team. it was not financial.

Andretti said, ” I’d just like to
put an end to some of these rumors that the deal fell
through because of financial reasons. That couldn’t be
further from the truth. That had nothing to do with that. It
basically came down to control issues in the final hours of
the negotiations. That’s what killed the deal.
I’ve always said if the deal is not right, we’re not going to
do it, and in the end it wasn’t right. So we continue to look
for other opportunities.”

Andretti explained that he would not be in control of the team had the purchase gone through, so he withdrew.

Andretti also said that Colton Herta would have been placed in the Formula 1 program and Kyle Kirkwood would have taken over the 26 car.

Will Kirkwood return to Andretti? It won’t be in 2022, but Andretti said,

“Yeah, so from that standpoint, that’s why unfortunately at
the moment we don’t have a spot for Kyle, but that’s not to
say we won’t in the future. We’re definitely going to watch
him, and I’m hoping he gets a full-time ride to get
experience, and we’ll see how that goes.
The goal is to get him back in our family one day again.”

Andretti emphasized that DeFrancesco did not take a seat from Kirkwood. There was a three year plan to put DeFrancesco in an Indycar seat.

Indy Lights was another hot topic during the press conference. Andretti strongly believes in the program and he is happy that Roger penske brought the junior series back into the Indycar paddock.

“I believe it’s the foundation for our series. You look at the talent that
comes out of it every year. 90 percent of our drivers have
come through that. That’s where our future stars are.
That’s where the future is of our sport. For me, it was very
important that we keep it alive in any way we could.”

Andretti also shared his thoughts on the absence of the Freedom 100.

“I guess we can be a little bit
different on our views on that. I think he’s looking at the big
picture, I guess, and that is protecting the 500, and he’s
just always worried that if there’s a bad accident or
whatever on Friday it could affect Sunday’s race.
You can’t argue with that, but having said that, I think it was
a great race for experience for these drivers, and it always
put on a great show. My gosh, everybody was excited for
that race to see what was going to happen, and it always
came down to inches at the end of the race.
It is a little disappointing for sure not having the race there,
but it is what it is.”

Steinbrenner Staying Put

George Steinbrenner IV has no plans to strike out and form an independent team. He has been a part of Andretti for six years and sees no reason to leave at this time. Steinbrenner said,

“You know, that — if the
team(time) ever comes where it sort of makes sense from an
operational/financial standpoint, then sure, absolutely it
would be awesome. But again, so far there hasn’t really
been the opportunity or really the reason to sort of leave
what the program is that we’ve had going on.
Sure, yeah, it’s definitely something we’ve thought about,
talked about, looked into, but don’t really have a timeline or
timetable for when or if it would be a reality.”

I really can’t think of a good reason for him to leave, either.

on Freedom 100

:

DeFrancesco Confirmed at Andretti

Image from Andretti Autosport

It’s not a surprise, but now it is official. Devlin DeFrancesco will drive the number 29 car for Andretti Autosport. The 29 29 is the Steinbrenner/Andretti entry. The statement from Andretti Autosport:

11.04.21

Graduating from the Road to Indy ladder, Devlin DeFrancesco has been confirmed to pilot Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport’s No. 29 Honda for the 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The Italian-Canadian driver made his first outings behind the wheel of an Indy car at two recent test days with Andretti Autosport and will make his first official race start on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida in February.   

“We’re thrilled to keep Devlin in the Andretti Autosport family as he makes his final jump up the Road to Indy ladder into INDYCAR,” said Michael Andretti, CEO and Chairman, Andretti Autosport. “Devlin has been a great addition to our Indy Lights program and has showed a lot of growth and strength at the recent test days. I think he’ll continue to grow with INDYCAR and I’m really glad that we could again partner with George and the Steinbrenner Racing team for the No. 29.” 

“Two years ago, we started a journey with Devlin with the intent to one day take him all the way to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and I’m thrilled that day has come,” said George Steinbrenner IV, CEO, Steinbrenner Racing. “From Indy Pro 2000 to Indy Lights and now to INDYCAR, he really impressed with his two initial days in an Indy car and we’re excited to see him in action in 2022.”

After making his Road to Indy debut in 2020 with Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport in Indy Pro 2000, DeFrancesco has quickly ascended the Road to Indy ladder moving into Indy Lights in 2021 and ultimately into the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2022. DeFrancesco earned the Rookie of the Year title and finished second in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship in 2020 and scored two podiums, nine top-five finishes, and 18 top-10 finishes in his Indy Lights debut season in 2021.  

“I am incredibly grateful to Michael (Andretti) and George (Steinbrenner IV) for the belief they have shown in me over the past two seasons moving up the Road to Indy ladder,” DeFrancesco said. “To now take that final step into INDYCAR with two of the world’s biggest names in sports – Andretti and Steinbrenner – is an incredible opportunity that I can’t wait to take full advantage of. I have three very experienced teammates to learn from and that is what makes this opportunity even more exciting. To get to race in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES with Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport and to contest the Indianapolis 500 is a dream come true and I’m so looking forward to getting started.” 

DeFrancesco rounds out the Andretti Autosport 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES lineup joining already announced drivers Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda), Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda) and Romain Grosjean (No. 28 DHL Honda).  

The 21-year-old’s debut INDYCAR season will again be supported by his 2021 Indy Lights sponsors including hydrogen production and dispensing fueling infrastructure innovators, PowerTap Hydrogen; Kimoa – the fashion, clothing, and accessories brand founded by Fernando Alonso; world-class racing simulator manufacturer AIS; Apple’s largest premium retail partner, Simply Mac; Seattle, WA-based Jones Soda Co; software and services company Fyllo; Seattle-WA and Miami, FL-based Sol Yoga.

Alfa Rome-No; Andretti F1 Deal not Going Forward

Photo: Racer magazine

What appeared to be an agreement for Michael Andretti to buy 80% interest in Formula 1’s Sauber entry, currently running as Alfa Romeo, has stooped short of completion. Andretti had agreed to pay 350 million Euros to purchase controlling interest in the team, but the team’s owner, Finn Raussing, wanted another 250 million up front to cover five years as a guarantee n case sponsorship was lacking.

If Michael Andretti still wants to enter Formula 1, he could pursue another team, although I can’t think of a current tem that is availale for the price he was willing to pay Alfa Romeo; or he could start a new team, which is cost prohibitive. in addition to team startup costs, there is 200 million Euro entry fee. The fee is distributed equally among the existing teams.

The end of the Andretti F1 saga for now puts to rest the speculation about Colton Herta going to F1. He would not have been eligible until 2023 at the earliest, but some people had him as good as gone from Indycar at the completion of the deal. It is good news for Indycar as Herta is the early favorite to become the 2022 Indycar champion.

In other F1 news, the Grand Prix of Miami apparently has sold out of available tickets. Some fans, like me, were notified that heir pre sale spots were no longer available. The organizers plan to cap attendance at 80,000 a day. Given all the fan issues at Austin, which has experience hosting F1 events, 80,000 seems ambitious, especially in the more compact venue space in Miami. I have heard three day tickets range from $600-$2,400. I’d rather spend that kind of money on tickets to Hamilton. Besides, Florida in May? No thanks.

Grosjean, Andretti Confirm Deal; DHL Stays

Photo from Andretti Autosport

It has been one of the worst kept secrets in the paddock. Andretti Autosport made the following announcement today:

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 24, 2021) — After an impressive rookie season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Romain Grosjean has been named to pilot Andretti Autosport’s No. 28 DHL Honda entry for the 2022 season. The Swiss-born French driver will join longtime Andretti partner, DHL, in his second season competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship.

“We are thrilled to welcome Romain to the Andretti Autosport family,” said Michael Andretti, CEO and Chairman, Andretti Autosport. “He already had an impressive resume before coming to INDYCAR and watching what he’s been able to do in his rookie season here has been exciting to say the least. His vast motorsport experience will be beneficial to the team alongside our already strong 2022 driver lineup. We also couldn’t be more excited to continue our strong partnership with DHL. The DHL sponsorship is one of the longest and most successful in the paddock and we look forward to continued success on and off the track.”

DHL, headquartered in southern Florida, first appeared as a partner with the Andretti Autosport team in 2011 as a co-primary sponsor on the 28-car, growing to be the full primary starting in 2014. During their decorated tenure in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, DHL has been a part of an Indianapolis 500 win, an NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion, 14 wins and 39 podiums.

“We couldn’t be happier to continue our successful partnership with Andretti Autosport, which has provided us with one of our most powerful avenues for connecting people to our global brand,” said Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Express Americas. “The legendary Andretti organization is run by a winning team whose members we have long considered part of our DHL family, and now we are excited to also welcome their newest driver, Romain Grosjean, to our family. We are thrilled to have such a highly regarded international competitor taking the wheel to represent DHL, and we look forward to a fruitful partnership with Romain and the entire Andretti team, both on and off the track.”

Grosjean officially made his move from Formula One, where he spent nine seasons, to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2021. The 35-year-old began his racing career at the age of 14 in multiple international karting championships before collecting numerous championship titles and race wins as he ascended Europe’s ultra-competitive open-wheel racing ladder. Before making the switch to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Grosjean recorded 10 podium-finishes, twice finishing a career-best second, and finished as high as seventh in the Formula One Championship standings. Grosjean has made quite the splash in his first year of American open-wheel racing, recording one pole, three podiums, four top-five finishes, leading over 50 laps and making his oval debut.

“I’m delighted to be joining Andretti Autosport and driving the No. 28 DHL Honda for next season,” said Grosjean. “It’s a big honor to be joining such a great team as Andretti, anyone in the motorsport world knows the name Andretti. I’m super happy and proud to be racing with the team. I’m also very proud to be representing with DHL. I’ve known the DHL color on racing cars for a very long time. I couldn’t be more proud to represent such a great company in INDYCAR. I’m hoping that we are going to be very successful together, which is our aim on every side. I would like also to thank Dale Coyne Racing for giving me the opportunity to join INDYCAR. I’ve enjoyed the racing so much and it’s given me the change today to be racing with one of the most competitive and best teams in the world.”


Grosjean joins already announced drivers Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta in Andretti Autosport’s 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES lineup.

A Great Day for Two Good Guys

It’s only Wednesday and the emotions in the Indycar family have been riding a roller coaster since Sunday. The joy of Pato o’Ward’s victory was tempered with the news of Bobby Unser’s death. But yesterday, two of the nicest guys in the paddock had great days. Robert Wickens drove a car at speed for the first time since his horrific crash at Pocono in 2018. Stefan Wilson confirmed he has a ride for the Indianapolis 500.

Stefan Wilson Returns to 500 with Andretti

Andretti Autosport announced Stefan Wilson as the driver of car 25 in the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. Wilson’s entry will be the sixth car in the Andretti stable. The announcement from the team:

STEFAN WILSON RETURNS TO ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT WITH LOHLA SPORT FOR THE 105th RUNNING OF THE INDIANAPOLIS 500

05.04.21

• Wilson and LOHLA SPORT to complete Andretti Autosport’s six-car Indy 500 lineup
• Premier women’s golf lifestyle brand LOHLA SPORT to make their debut in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis 500 for Wilson’s third start at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing

Andretti Autosport announced today that Stefan Wilson and new partner LOHLA SPORT will join the five-time Indianapolis 500 winning team for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 to complete the team’s six-car lineup. Wilson, who ran the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport and competed for the team in Indy Lights, will team up with the new premier women’s golf lifestyle brand to run the No. 25 LOHLA SPORT Honda.



“We’re excited to not only welcome Stefan back to the team, but also to have a new partner in LOHLA SPORT come on board to experience their first Indy 500,” said Michael Andretti, Chairman and CEO, Andretti Autosport. “We have a great history with the Wilson family and we’re hopeful we can build on successes we’ve had in the past this May.”

 
“After leading laps with Andretti Autosport at the Indianapolis 500 in 2018, I’m hungry to return and finish the job. I’ve worked tirelessly to make this return happen and I am so thankful that LOHLA SPORT has believed in me to represent them,” said Wilson. “It’s a dream come true to rejoin Andretti and also partner with Honda once more in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The icing on the cake is we get to do this with a brand new company in LOHLA SPORT, a premium women’s apparel brand already captivating the golf lifestyle scene. Among the fans and partners involved with the Indianapolis 500, we have a huge amount of golf enthusiasts, so I’m excited to get them exposed to what LOHLA SPORT is all about. None of this would have happened without Don and Carolyn Cusick, who are avid racing and golf enthusiasts and also shareholders in LOHLA SPORT. This program also represents the birth of Cusick Motorsports, and I am hopeful the 2021 Indianapolis 500 will be a springboard to many exciting opportunities for the Cusick Motorsports brand in the future. Lastly, I am thankful to have Expedia Group’s VIP Access join the effort, along with Menlo Ventures, VSRS and Liberty Group.”


Debuting in January of 2021, LOHLA SPORT has quickly captivated the golf, country club and resort market. The brainchild of recognized fashionista Lisa O’Hurley, former Golf Channel and GOLFINO executive with more than two decades in the industry, the brand’s impeccable sense of style features colorful, on-trend European designs with Los Angeles flair. Formal collaboration with London-based Paul Rees – renowned creator of countless Burberry, Aquascutum and GOLFINO hits – has LOHLA SPORT in roughly 100 exclusive golf shops coast to coast.

“Taking this cool, market-broadening road to Indy doesn’t happen every day,” said O’Hurley. “LOHLA SPORT is proud to support women who love golf and love all sports as our outfits are fit for the course, court, racetrack and everywhere between.”

Also joining the effort is Cusick Motorsports, created by Don and Carolyn Cusick as a business incubator in racing; VIP Access, Expedia Group’s network of premium, invitation-only properties; VSRS, specializing in forging exclusive relationships in the automotive sector; Menlo Ventures, an investment firm having backed 70+ public companies and Liberty Group, specializing in wealth management, tax planning and estate law.

“As a lifelong INDYCAR fan I have always wanted to attend the Indianapolis 500 live, but never found my way there until now,” said Don Cusick. “Thankfully the stars aligned this year, meeting Stefan Wilson and creating this amazing partnership. From casually asking Stefan if he had any contacts for great seats at Indy and half-jokingly telling him the best seat would have him driving in it. As it turns out I’m getting the second-best seat in the house as the sponsor of the number 25 Andretti Autosport Indy car driven by Stefan. LOHLA SPORT is a company I am invested in, owned by our family friend Lisa O’Hurley. I couldn’t be more excited for the month of May and this opportunity to sponsor Stefan Wilson, one of the truly great people in motorsports.”

The No. 25 LOHLA SPORT Honda and Wilson will make their 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut on with Opening Day on May 18 before the green flag waves for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Sunday, May 30 with broadcast on NBC.

Herta Expects to Contend Again; Hopes Father Knows Best

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

No one on the Indycar Content day zoom conference was surprised to hear Colton Herta make his intentions to be in position to win the series championship this year.

“I wouldn’t be in INDYCAR if I didn’t have the confidence in myself to perform. Yes, I believe I can. I think we showed it last year of what could have been. If I didn’t have that slip up at Iowa, mess that up for us, we could have been really good in the championship hunt going into the last round,” he responded when asked if he could win the championship this season.

Herta exuded his usual confidence during the conference. He seemed more focused and calmer than he has the last two years. . He knows he has the driving talent to win and the team to help him get there. What does he need to go from third to first in the title chase?

“… cutting out the mistakes, changing kind of those top fives, fourth and fifth places that we had last year, we had a bunch of them, into podiums, and some of those podiums we had into wins. We need to win a little bit more and we need a little bit more podiums, a tiny bit more consistency to really make a true championship run.”

One thing that will change on Herta’s team will be his race strategist. Bryan Herta, Colton’s father, will be in his ear during races. The elder Herta is one of the best strategists in the paddock. He managed fuel strategy for Alexander Rossi in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. Fathers as their son’s strategist has not worked well in the past. Michael Andretti was Marco’s strategist, which didn’t pan out. Bobby Rahal was on the radio for Graham one year. That was not a good situation Why will this arrangement work out better than the previous ones?

Colton explained, “I think you can tell by now that we’re both pretty mellow. We don’t get excited and we don’t get upset or very sad. We stay pretty even. Our emotions don’t really get the better of us. I think in that aspect, I think the other personalities will get heated at each other, where I don’t think it would happen with us because of how mellow we are.”

Winning more races and eliminating mistakes are what Herta believes will bring him the championship. He hopes he can bring his dad along for the ride to the top.


Rossi Set to Bounce Back from Year that ‘Sucked’

Photo: Chris Owens, Indycar

Alexander Rossi will tell you exactly what he thinks.

“No, I just think we sucked globally. Like there wasn’t anything we were doing right, whether itwas qualifying performance, whether it was race performance, pit stops, my driving. None of it was good…Last year just sucked. It sucked on track, it sucked off track. It was a terrible year for everyone except for Scott and Takuma, so good for them.”

The Andretti Autosport driver did see a reason for optimisim toward the end of the season with four podiums and a strong performance at St. Pete, where he was ina position to win until a late crash ended his race and frustrating season. he takes the blame for the incident.

“..the end of the year went really well for us for the most part,minus St. Pete, which is on me.There you go. I’m not going to get into the details of it because it’s not necessary, but I think we’re operating at a really high level right now, and I’m excited to get on track in Barber.”

Rossi said that the team’s testing has gone quite well, and that they are ready to come out of the gate strong. He believes the schedule with fewer short ovals plays to the strength of the Andretti team overall.

” I think street courses followed by the superspeedways followed by road courses are Andretti Autosport’s strong suits and we only had one of those last year which we did not capitalize on whatsoever…Fortunately short ovals really aren’t a huge factor anymore, so yay for that.”

Rossi believes a lot of the issues in 2020 revolved around the condensed track time at races, and not getting to where they needed to be quickly enough.

“…at the end of the day as much as we as a team struggled with the minimal practice time, I did, as well. Like I wasn’t doing a good enough job getting up to speed quick enough, which was putting us on the back foot and having to take pretty big risks in qualifying. Sometimes it was okay, sometimes we qualified — quite honestly we qualified all right all throughout the beginning of the year. We were just never kind of in the top three, which is where you’ve got to be these days. It’s where you’ve got to be to go out and win races.”

Rossi is excited for the 2021 season to begin. he is very about the way preseason testing has gone, and believes he and team can put 2020 in the past. I thought last year was an aberration for Rossi. I look for a strong year from him, and he will be contending for the title all season.