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Nico Jamin confirmed with Andretti to step up to Indy Lights

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Andretti Autosport has its second confirmed driver for the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season, with Nico Jamin stepping up from the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires campaign.

The young Frenchman stormed to the 2015 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda title with Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, and won a couple races in Pro Mazda with the Capes, ending third in points.

After a successful test with Andretti at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test in October at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jamin will now join the list of those who’ve run in all three rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder.

“I am delighted to announce that I will be driving in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires for Andretti Autosport in 2017,” Jamin said. “I remember my first USF2000 race back in 2014, walking by Mario Andretti in the paddock and I asked him to take a picture with me. That day, I was far to think that I was going to drive for a team owned by his son, Michael, a few years later. This is a dream come true and I thank everyone who made it possible – my family, partners, the whole Andretti team and fellow Frenchman, J-F Thormann. We have had extremely positive test days already and I am very much looking forward to seeing the first green flag of the season wave at St. Petersburg.”

Michael Andretti added, “We are really pleased to welcome Nico to our Indy Lights team,” said team owner Michael Andretti. “His progress in the MRTI system has been promising so far and he was impressive in recent testing. We’re looking forward to a competitive season for Nico and the No. 27 team.”

Jamin will take over the No. 27 car vacated by Dean Stoneman, as the team’s second confirmed driver alongside Dalton Kellett. Andretti is keen to continue running at least three cars, and with Shelby Blackstock departing for Belardi Auto Racing, it’s possible that this year’s Atlantic champion Ryan Norman, who’s tested with Andretti, could fill that role.

Jamin follows Nicolas Dapero (Juncos Racing) as Pro Mazda graduates who step up – Aaron Telitz will as well after winning the title, with his team to be revealed at a later date. Kellett and Blackstock have also been confirmed for 2017.

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’


NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”