IndyCar: Andretti adds fifth car for GP of Indy for Franck Montagny

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File this one into the “Lucas Luhr to Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing out-of-left-field” style of Verizon IndyCar Series announcements.

Andretti Autosport, which is ramping up for a fairly big month of May anyway with a fifth car for Kurt Busch to join its usual four in the Indianapolis 500, and also has entries in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire, Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tire and Red Bull Global Rallycross, will run the fifth IndyCar at the May 8-10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis for Frenchman Franck Montagny.

Commercial partners were not announced for the No. 26 Honda, but this does mark a reunion between Montagny, Andretti Autosport and HPD.

Montagny has made two career North American open-wheel starts. He finished second in the April 2008 Champ Car series finale at Long Beach, and made a one-off start for Andretti, in an AFS partnership, in the team’s fifth car at the 2009 race in Sonoma.

He’s also worked with the team in sports cars, when Andretti ran the Acura ARX-01b in 2008. Montagny has 12 career starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, most recently in 2012 with OAK Racing, after the Peugeot factory team withdrew prior to the start of that season.

“I am very happy to be back with Andretti Autosport; I have already felt ‘at home’ during my visits,” Montagny commented. “Participating in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in the temple of motorsport that is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a true moment of happiness.”

The addition brings the GP of Indy car count up to 25, with second cars at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Oriol Servia) and A.J. Foyt Racing (Martin Plowman) entered to join the full-season 22.

Andretti’s fifth car finished second in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 with rookie Carlos Munoz (pictured right).

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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