INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Jan. 3, 2007 1. Franchitti back with AGR in 2007 2. Wilson signs with Brian Stewart Racing 3. Automobile Magazine honors Penske 4. Andersen Racing adds co-owner, engineers 1. Franchitti back with AGR in 2007: ...
INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- Jan. 3, 2007
1. Franchitti back with AGR in 2007
2. Wilson signs with Brian Stewart Racing
3. Automobile Magazine honors Penske
4. Andersen Racing adds co-owner, engineers
1. Franchitti back with AGR in 2007: IndyCar Series veteran Dario Franchitti will return to Andretti Green Racing as driver of the No. 27 Honda-powered Dallara, team officials announced Jan. 3.
Franchitti will be backed by Canadian Club® Canadian whisky, which will also be an associate sponsor on the IndyCar Series entries driven by AGR teammates Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick.
"I haven't been this excited to get back into a race car in quite a long time," Franchitti said. "We had some very good race cars last season, and I expect to be contending for race wins when we return to the track in March."
The 33-year-old Scotsman has four IndyCar Series victories and three poles and is the winningest British driver in Indy-style racing. In addition to his duties as one of AGR's four IndyCar Series drivers, he will team with Bryan Herta and his brother, Marino Franchitti, in the American Le Mans Series LMP2 class.
"Dario has proven over and over that he is one of the very best drivers in the world and we're happy he's going to return to the IndyCar Series and jump into the ALMS car in 2007," said Michael Andretti, Chairman, Andretti Green Racing. "He is a fantastic leader and, along with Tony Kanaan, will continue to provide a lot in the development areas AGR is working on."
Canadian Club returns to the IndyCar Series after it joined AGR at the 2006 Indianapolis 500. A member of the Beam Global Spirits & Wine family, Canadian Club is one of the largest and most prominent Canadian whisky brands in the world.
"We are very excited about the continuation of our partnership with AGR and Dario for the 2007 season," said Dennis Prado, Senior Director, Canadian Club. "The Canadian Club racing program was very successful in 2006, and we are looking forward to making it more effective for the brand in 2007. The IndyCar Series aligns well with the core Canadian Club brand attributes, and it appeals to our target consumers. The IndyCar Series also provides a highly visible platform for our drink smart© social responsibility program. We are looking forward to very successful season in 2007 both on and off the track."
2. Wilson signs with Brian Stewart Racing: Bobby Wilson has signed with two-time defending Indy Pro Series team champion Brian Stewart Racing as driver of the No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing entry in 2007.
"I'm extremely happy that Bobby is joining the team," said team owner Brian Stewart, who was inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005. "He was high on our list of drivers who we would like to have driving for us. He raced for us in 2005 and sat on the front row at Infineon. Last year, he won at Watkins Glen. He's a shifter kart champion, a (Formula Ford) Zetec champion. He's a proven winner."
Stewart thinks the addition of Wilson can lead to a third consecutive entrant championship for his team. Wade Cunningham, the 2005 Indy Pro Series champion, helped the team win the last two team titles by recording four victories and 21 top-five finishes in 24 starts.
"Bobby's extremely capable of filling Wade's shoes," Stewart said. "Winston Churchill said, 'Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.' That's what we plan to do with Bobby. We'll give him the car, and he'll do his job."
Another championship would also be Wilson's third, albeit his first at this level of racing. The 25-year-old, who boasts sponsorship from Ocala (Fla.) Gran Prix where he is a karting instructor, captured the Stars of Karting championship in 2003 and the Cooper Tires Formula Ford Zetec championship in 2004.
He debuted in the Indy Pro Series with three races for Brian Stewart Racing in 2005. Last year, he split the season between Michael Crawford Motorsports and Kenn Hardley Racing, finishing fourth in points.
"I'm excited about running for Brian Stewart Racing," said Wilson, who tied for the Indy Pro Series lead with 11 top-10 finishes in 2006. "Taking Wade's seat is a tall order to fill, but I think I can pick up where he left off.
"I'm definitely going to be in the lead pack. Last year, I was looked at as a rookie, which led to some conservative setups on the ovals. I showed I was fast at the last race in Chicago. That was a confidence builder."
The pursuit of championship No. 3 will begin March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
3. Automobile Magazine honors Penske: Roger Penske received one more accolade for 2006. Automobile Magazine named the IndyCar Series team owner the auto industry's "Man of The Year."
"In selecting Roger Penske, we are not only celebrating his career accomplishments, but acknowledging that his impact will be felt within and outside of the automotive industry for years to come," said Gavin Conway, the magazine's editor in chief. "Those accomplishments are in addition to his hero status in the city of Detroit, where he chaired the recent Super Bowl committee."
With driver Sam Hornish Jr., Penske's team won the IndyCar Series championship for the first time and the Indianapolis 500 for the 14th time. He has been the driving force behind the resurrection of racing at Detroit's Belle Isle. The IndyCar Series will compete on the road course on Sept. 2 for the first time.
4. Andersen Racing adds co-owner, engineers: Dominic and Nicholas Cape have joined to the staff of Andersen Racing's Indy Pro Series entry for 2007, team owner Dan Andersen announced on Dec. 26.
Andersen also announced his brother John, a veteran race official and his long-time business partner, has become co-owner of the racing team.
John Andersen, who was most recently director of race operations for the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 series, will serve as team manager for the effort while Dominic and Nicholas Cape will be chief engineer and chief mechanic, respectively.
"I've known the Capes for over 15 years," Dan Andersen said. "They fielded cars in the Formula Ford 2000 series when I was the administrator of it, and I've also raced against them as a team owner. They have had a great deal of success in the sport, including running J.R. Hildebrand this year when he dominated the Cooper Tires F2000 series. John has also worked with them closely for the last five years, and we both think they'll be great assets to Andersen Racing."