By Eric Mauk: Indy Car team owner looking to branch out into NASCAR, could again partner with Richard Petty
About the only thing missing on Michael Andretti’s glistening racing resume (aside from that pesky Indianapolis 500 win) is the fact that he never got a chance to compete in stock cars of any sort.
Andretti may be looking to fill that column on his stat sheet now, albeit as a team owner, as the former Indy Car champion has told SI.com that for the third consecutive year he is pursuing the creation of a new team to run the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
"We were looking at NASCAR real close last year, too, but it fell apart," Andretti said to SI.com. "We were looking at it just as hard last year as this year and the year before."
The predominant thinking is that Andretti could partner with Richard Petty Motorsports – a pairing that the two have already shown car work as they ran John Andretti in the Indianapolis 500 in both 2010 and 2011. RPM is currently stabled with the Ford-based Roush-Fenway Racing team, but Petty’s long and storied history with Dodge has fueled speculation that The King’s team could switch allegiances for next season. RPM’s work with RFR also lends credence to prognostications that the recently-deposed Matt Kenseth would drive for Andretti’s new team after Kenseth told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he would be “driving for a new Cup team in 2013”.
- Michael Andretti investigating a move to NASCAR
- Possibility exists for a joint venture with Richard Petty Motorsports
- Opportunity also in place for fledgling team to sign Matt Kenseth to drive
Reports also are already filtering out that Andretti has purchased an engine program through Penske Racing for next season, Penske being one of the top teams in the Dodge NASCAR camp. That report is yet to be confirmed.
"I'm always looking at all options," Andretti said. "I'd be stupid not to listen to Dodge or any other manufacturers. It doesn't matter that we are a Chevy IndyCar team. It might be nice if it was all under one roof but, in our contract, we're a Chevy IndyCar team."
Now of course, it is not as easy as saying you want to go run NASCAR. The history of the sport is filled with names that have branched out to stock cars after making their names in Indy Car. Some have failed, others like Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi have succeeded. Penske also told SI.com that moving to Cup requires an entirely new level of commitment – and of course, sponsorship.
We were looking at NASCAR real close last year, too, but it fell apart. We were looking at it just as hard last year as this year and the year before.
"I would tell him one thing -- it's entirely different than what he has here," Penske said. "You are running 36 and 37 races. The cars may not look it, but they are very sophisticated. At the end of the day it's the workload and the number of people. We have 50 people on our IndyCar team and 250 people on our NASCAR team. Transportation is more expensive. It costs you three- to four-times more to run up front in NASCAR than in an IndyCar."
Of course, the one thing that Andretti’s team has excelled in over the past few years in Indy Car is in securing sponsorship. While most teams have struggled to get five-figure sponsor deals, Andretti’s teams have been the among the best at securing new companies to invest in their racing program. He has also said that a NASCAR effort would not come at the expense of his current Indy Car organization.