The start of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season is just one week away, all the pre-season talk is over and now it is time for the real business to take place with the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
Andretti Autosport made a number of key changes over the off-season which they hope will bring them back to the front of the field following a tough season in 2016.
Former Formula One driver Takuma Sato has joined Andretti Autosport from AJ Foyt Racing replacing Carlos Munoz in the No.26 with Munoz moving the opposite way to AJ Foyt Racing.
Sato joined Andretti late having being confirmed with the team in December. Speaking ahead of opening race of the year, the Japanese driver commented by saying:
I am extremely excited about this coming 2017 season. Not only because it’s always exciting for new season, but it’s a new environment and new challenge for me — it’s my very first year with Andretti Autosport. I haven’t had a lot of on-track testing this pre-season, but it has certainly been one of the most productive winters and I already have a good feeling that we are going to have a great season. I have a lot to learn to work seamlessly with the team, but I am confident that we will get there very quickly. It will be a thrilling 2017 season.
Marco Andretti continues in the No.27 Honda with primary sponsorship from grocery store chain hhgregg. Speaking ahead of the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, Andretti commented by saying:
I’m looking forward to a fresh start this 2017 season. I am going to try to have more fun this year and am confident that will bring results. I feel a lot better about myself, both physically and mentally and I think that is a good start. As a team, we are feeling better about our approach and the changes we have made in the offseason. I’m really excited to get the season started – there’s good things to come from the hhgregg boys.
Ryan Hunter Reay heads in the new season with a new contract and an extended primary sponsorship deal with DHL and speaking ahead o the new season, he commented by saying:
I’m more than ready to get back to work! Following a 2016 season in which we had a few major missed opportunities, we’re hoping to make up for it in 2017. Testing for 2017 has been drastically reduced so we’re all looking forward to getting back to the track, behind the wheel and making progress from last year. We have one goal at this team and that is to win. We’re all very determined to get that iconic No. 28 DHL Honda back into victory lane.
Alexander Rossi returns to the Verizon IndyCar Series for his second full season of competition with the NAPA Auto Parts 98 Curb Honda. Rossi has a number of changes to his engineering team with Jeremy Milless heading up the engineering efforts for the No.98 Honda.
Speaking ahead of the new season, Rossi, the defending Indianapolis 500 champion commented by saying:
Returning to Andretti Autosport for a second consecutive season is something that I am not only excited about, but proud of. While we accomplished a lot last year, we still felt that there was a lot of room for improvement. Being able to keep the continuity within the team is something that is often very underrated in motorsports and can have hugely positive impacts on on-track performance. With that said, I am proud of what we have accomplished this offseason in conjunction with Honda and I look forward to getting in my NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda at the season opener, which is just around the corner.
Some other changes within Andretti Autosport sees Scott ‘Skid’ Marks move to the No.98 NAPA Auto Parts crew having previously been chief mechanic to the No.28 DHL crew.
Jeff Grahn has become chief mechanic to Ryan Hunter Reay’s No.28 DHL Honda having worked with Dario Franchitti and Marco Andretti during his time working with Andretti Autosport.
Eric Bretzman has joined Andretti Autosport as technical director. The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season gets underway next weekend with the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg for ticket info visit – http://gpstpete.com/