Report: Juan Pablo Montoya will not join Andretti Autosport

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Juan Pablo Montoya’s plans for 2014 have yet to be determined, but they won’t include an IZOD IndyCar Series drive with Andretti Autosport.

Montoya, who has been a free agent since being told by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing that he would not return to their Sprint Cup team next season, had been linked to a possible return to open-wheel racing with Michael Andretti’s team. However, per Marshall Pruett of RACER Magazine, the 1999 CART champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner has informed AA that he will not be joining them.

With Ryan Newman set to jump to Richard Childress Racing next season, the No. 78 Chevrolet of Furniture Row Racing remains in play this “Silly Season,” as Kurt Busch, its current driver, will be off to Stewart-Haas Racing at that time.

FRR and Montoya have held discussions about joining forces, and last weekend at Richmond International Raceway, FRR general manager Joe Garone seemed to indicate that a decision from their camp was near.

“It’s just a process,” he explained at the time to Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News. “Part of it is you just identify where you want to go – do you want to stay with a veteran or do you want to go with a younger rookie and bring a kid up?

“We’re just trying to get through that decision. You’ve got to take Juan seriously. He’s been around a while and obviously can win races.”

Montoya has turned up the wick performance-wise since he learned of EGR’s decision to cut him loose at season’s end. He’s netted a pair of Top-10s in the last three races and will start on the inside of Row 2 for Sunday’s Chase-opening GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Kyle Larson will be replacing Montoya in Earnhardt Ganassi’s No. 42 machine next season.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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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.