TUSC: Lally, Valiante lock down 2014 rides

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Two more drivers have confirmed their 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship plans in the last couple days.

Andy Lally stays with Magnus Racing and co-driver and team principal John Potter (pictured). Lally, a former NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie-of-the-year, has since returned to his sports car roots and was close to winning this year’s GRAND-AM Rolex Series GT championship. The pair will race Magnus’ new Porsche 911 GT America, a car designed solely for the TUDOR Championship’s GTD class, and Lally has begun testing today at Sebring Raceway in Florida.

Elsewhere in Florida, or at least involving teams based there, Spirit of Daytona confirmed Canadian Michael Valiante as one of its two drivers earlier this week of its Corvette Daytona Prototype. Valiante drove a handful of events for the team in 2012 and won with Richard Westbrook at Mid-Ohio. Westbrook is expected to be confirmed alongside in due course.

Because Lally drove for both Magnus (GRAND-AM) and Dempsey Racing (American Le Mans Series) this year, he’s the first driver to have to choose between squads for the merged 2014 series. That led to Dempsey’s team offering this tweet as a response; note if you follow @GoDempseyRacing, this is not at all meant as a slight on Lally.

Meanwhile Valiante raced a partial season with Enzo Potolicchio’s 8Star Motorsports DP team in 2013. But 8Star has not yet confirmed its 2014 plans for either the TUDOR Championship or the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Marco Andretti to drive throwback scheme to honor 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario’s last win

Photo courtesy Andretti-Herta Autosport
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Marco Andretti wanted to do something really special to honor the 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario Andretti’s final Indy car win in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway (now known as ISM Raceway).

So the third-generation Andretti, along with his team, Andretti-Herta Autosport, came up with a plan and design that will take longtime race fans back in time when it appears early next month for the Phoenix Grand Prix.

Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Oberto Beef Jerky Circle K/Curb Honda will be decked out in the colors of the car his grandfather won his last race on the one-mile short track 25 years ago.

“When the idea of a throwback livery celebrating my grandfather’s final win was thrown around, Oberto was ready to get to the drawing board,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “The black, white and red car resembles many of my family’s race cars and was a big part of my life growing up.

“It’s really cool to be able to add one of my cars to that family legacy.”

The car is a virtual double of the legendary Newman-Haas Racing and Texaco/Havoline-sponsored car Mario drove on that celebratory day in the Valley of the Sun 2 ½ decades ago.

Various events and ceremonies during the April 6-7 race weekend will honor the senior Andretti. That includes several of his former competitors who will be on hand to celebrate with Mario, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, Arie Luyendyk, and of course, son Michael Andretti and grandson Marco Andretti.

Check out what happened on that day 25 years ago:

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