Hunter-Reay scores pole at Barber (VIDEO)

Leave a comment
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Ryan Hunter-Reay scored the Verizon P1 award for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. The Andretti Autosport driver is the first driver outside of Team Penske to score a pole or win at Barber Motorsports Park in the track’s four-year IndyCar history.

“This team has done so well this weekend, we just kept progressing and we knew where we needed to work on it. I really went to work on my driving as well, and we all did it together here. It’s a great position to start from and now we need to go make it work in warm up and for the race, making these Firestones hang in there for an entire race. That’ll be the challenging part.”

Will Power upheld Team Penske’s honor and admitted he was happy with second. Tristan Vautier ended third after a last-minute promotion into the Firestone Fast Six, ahead of Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Helio Castroneves.

Dixon qualified fourth but set the new Barber track record, a 1:06.7750 in his group of first qualifying, around the 2.3-mile road course.

Vautier entered the Fast Six just before the session after Takuma Sato was issued a penalty for blocking Justin Wilson. Sato’s two fastest laps were deleted, which demoted him to 12th on the grid, and sent Vautier and his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew into a mad dash to bring his car back to pit lane from the IndyCar paddock.

AJ Allmendinger made it through his group in qualifying and will line up in the top 10 for his first open-wheel start in seven years.

Kimball’s fifth place is his best career start after making his first Firestone Fast Six. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti and Dragon Racing’s Sebastian Saavedra start where they did in St. Petersburg, seventh and ninth, respectively.

Simon Pagenaud, Simona de Silvestro, Dario Franchitti and St. Petersburg winner James Hinchcliffe were among the big names who failed to advance out of their group in Q1.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda GP of Alabama

Starting Lineup

Row 1

1-Ryan Hunter-Reay
12-Will Power

Row 2

55-Tristan Vautier
9-Scott Dixon

Row 3

83-Charlie Kimball
3-Helio Castroneves

Row 4

25-Marco Andretti
19-Justin Wilson

Row 5

6-Sebastian Saavedra
2-AJ Allmendinger

Row 6

16-James Jakes
14-Takuma Sato

Row 7

77-Simon Pagenaud
78-Simona de Silvestro

Row 8

98-Alex Tagliani
5-E.J. Viso

Row 9

10-Dario Franchitti
22-Oriol Servia

Row 10

11-Tony Kanaan
27-James Hinchcliffe

Row 11

15-Graham Rahal
67-Josef Newgarden

Row 12

7-Sebastien Bourdais
4-JR Hildebrand

Row 13

18-Ana Beatriz
20-Ed Carpenter

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.