IRL: Michael Andretti to retire after Indy 500

Indianapolis, Ind. (January 31, 2003) -- Andretti Green Racing (AGR) tonight confirmed its 2003 Indy Racing League driver and sponsor lineup and announced that it will manage three teams under the AGR umbrella. Known as Team 7-Eleven, sponsorship...

Indianapolis, Ind. (January 31, 2003) -- Andretti Green Racing (AGR) tonight confirmed its 2003 Indy Racing League driver and sponsor lineup and announced that it will manage three teams under the AGR umbrella. Known as Team 7-Eleven, sponsorship for Michael Andretti's #7 car will be provided by convenience store giant 7-Eleven and its flagship brand Big Gulp . Also known as Team 7-Eleven, Tony Kanaan's #11 car will be sponsored by several of 7-Eleven's vendors. AGR's Dario Franchitti will pilot the #27 entry sponsored by Alpine, Archipelago and Motorola and driver Daniel Wheldon, who will race the majority of the season, will be sponsored by co-primary partners, Klein Tools and Jim Beam in the #26 car. Andretti Green Racing also partners with Honda on all four of the team's entries.

Tonight's event, which was held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, was also used to frame veteran racing star Michael Andretti's announcement that following this May's 87th running of the Indianapolis 500, he will retire from professional racing in order to devote his energies to his role as chief executive officer of AGR.

Andretti's retirement statement comes only months after he joined forces with Kim Green and Kevin Savoree to purchase Team Green from Barry Green. The trio, who have been immersed in the formation of AGR (which officially opened for business on December 3, 2002), also announced that they will field three cars at every IndyCar Series race this season and four cars at the Indianapolis 500.

"We are very pleased to introduce our driver and sponsor lineup and celebrate the launch of Andretti Green Racing with so many of our friends and partners," said Kim Green, president of Andretti Green Racing. "We are happy to announce that we will be running Michael Andretti, Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti at the first four events this season, but will also add a fourth car for Daniel Wheldon at the Indy 500. Following Michael's retirement at the end of May, Wheldon will become our third full-time driver, and will contest the remainder of the season with teammates Kanaan and Franchitti."

While the 7-Eleven and Big Gulp trademarks will be prominently featured on Andretti and Kanaan's cars, the latter's will also be supported by PepsiCo and their Pepsi-Cola, Frito- Lay, Gatorade and Tropicana brands and Jack Link's Beef Jerky. All Andretti Green entries will carry the Motorola and Jim Beam logos. Klein Tools, who is a co-primary sponsor of Daniel Wheldon, will also back Andretti and Kanaan. Andretti is also supported by electronic stock exchange innovator, Archipelago. Rounding out AGR's sponsors are technical partners Showa, NGK, BBS, EDS, Clausing and Firestone.

"We are extremely proud to welcome such an exceptional group of sponsors to the Andretti Green Racing family," said Kevin Savoree, chief operating officer and vice president finance of AGR. "We have worked with several of these sponsors at Team Green and are pleased that they believed in the vision we presented to them. We thank them for their ongoing support and would like to express our gratitude to our new partners for their commitment to helping us build Andretti Green Racing into a dominant force in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series."

The evening ended with a speech by Michael Andretti, who expressed his deepest thanks to the Andretti Green Racing staff and sponsors, for their work and commitment over the past few months. In announcing his retirement, the racing icon explained that after being so directly involved in the day-to-day activities of AGR over the past few months he knew he was ready to stop racing.

"I know I've made the right choice to buy this team and I also know that to be truly successful at team ownership, you have to be willing to give 110 percent to the job. I've decided that I want to be a team owner full-time, but first there's still a little piece of unfinished business I want to take care of on the race track. I still want to win the Indianapolis 500. It's the one thing that I haven't done in my career, and it's the one thing that I really want to accomplish."

"I'm a very lucky man," he added. "Over the past 20 years I've been able to pursue my dreams and succeed at my profession. I've been supported, encouraged and surrounded by people in the racing industry who continue to show me that anything is possible in this sport. I am very happy about this decision. Believe me when I tell you that I will be just as proud to accept first-place trophies as the team owner of Andretti Green Racing as I have been to accept them as a driver."

-agr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kim Green , Jim Beam