Indy 500 sponsor, livery revealed for Kurt Busch (PHOTOS)

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Kurt Busch’s run toward the Indianapolis 500/Coca-Cola 600 double began this morning, as Andretti Autosport revealed the primary sponsor and livery for his No. 26 Honda.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star will be backed at the “500” by Suretone Entertainment, which currently manages artists such as rock legends Fleetwood Mac and ZZ Top. The company also runs a record label and works in film and TV production.

“This thing started about a year and a half ago,” team owner Michael Andretti said during today’s unveiling at team HQ in Indianapolis. “We got Kurt to actually come out and test one of our cars and we were quite impressed, and we were like, ‘Hey Kurt, what do you think?’ So we started dialogue all the way back then and it’s finally become reality.”

After today’s festivities, Busch will enter the cockpit tomorrow when he begins his “500” Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It really comes into play tomorrow at the track, when I sit in as a driver behind the wheel,” he said at the unveiling. “To go 220 [miles per hour] in race trim and then to ramp it up – [team owner] Michael [Andretti] already told me I gotta do 230 if I think I’m going to have a shot at the fast group – it’s an amazing challenge.

“Today really kicks it off, and we’ll focus for these next 30 days.”

In a statement released by the team, Suretone chairman Jordan Schur said the the company took “great pride to partner with Andretti Autosport as we support Kurt in his incredible endeavor.”

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Credit: AndrettiTV.com

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.