A.J. Foyt likely to keep Honda, Sato for 2014, and stay at one car

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It’s not the pivotal piece in the IZOD IndyCar Series silly season but as one of few paying rides, without the need for a driver to bring sponsorship, A.J. Foyt’s No. 14 ABC Supply Honda is still a plum seat on the grid.

Foyt said Wednesday it’s likely he’ll keep Honda and driver Takuma Sato for next year.

“Well, we’ll be with Honda, and we’ll probably be with Sato,” Foyt said in a Wednesday teleconference.  “We’ve got a pretty good combination going.  I think we’re going to work out everything.  I definitely know we’ll probably be with Honda.  They’re coming out with some new stuff.  They’ve got a little bit to catch up with the Chevrolet products and the superspeedways. Now on the road course and all that, Honda holds their own.  But on some of the big tracks, I think maybe the Chevrolet has a little bit more power than we do.  At least it’s proven that way, but they’re working hard.  Honda’s a very good company, and they’ve been good to us.  So it looks like we’ll be with Honda.”

Sato emerged as the points leader heading into Indianapolis on the strength of his first career win at Long Beach, and the first for Foyt’s team since 2002. But from Indianapolis onwards, Sato has had a miserable run of events, with just one top-10 finish in 12 races (Milwaukee) and seven consecutive finishes of 20th or worse heading into Houston.

Foyt also rubbished the suggestion of running a second car next year, saying he’d rather do it right. Foyt traditionally runs a second car at the Indianapolis 500.

“The way I look at that, I would like to run two cars again, but getting a proper sponsor and doing it 100 percent,” he said, “I’m not doing it until we can do it right.  It only takes one car to win the race, and I know it makes it easier when you’ve got a team with two or three cars, because if something happens to one, you’ve got a good back up on the next one.  But I’d like to go back to a two‑car team, but at the same time, it takes a lot of money now.  If you can’t do it right, there is no sense in trying to do it.”

Foyt returned to the track for the first time in months at Tuesday’s manufacturer test in Fontana, Calif., ahead of his home race in Houston next month.

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.