Miller (with helmet) and Faulkner. Photos courtesy CJ Wilson Racing

New drivers, partners joins CJ Wilson Racing’s CTSC program

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Plucky and underrated Irishman Damien Faulkner will be back in the U.S. this year as a new full-time driver with CJ Wilson Racing’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge program as one of several new components for Wilson’s two-car Porsche Cayman GT4 program.

Faulkner’s competed in parts of the last several seasons with Riley Motorsports (2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona) and GB Autosport (first portion of 2015), with his last full-time season coming with GB in 2014.

He’ll share the No. 35 CJWR Porsche Cayman GT4 with fellow new recruit Russell Ward, a 24-year-old rookie to the Continental Tire Challenge series.

The team has announced a new partnership with Houston-based Winward Racing, and Techemet LP, a World leader in automobile catalytic converter recycling and precious metal trading services based in Pasadena, Texas, will serve as primary partner on the No. 35 car. Techemet LP Vice President Bryce Ward is the team’s reserve driver and may race in selected events.

Till Bechtolsheimer, who impressed in a limited first season in the No. 35, will shift to the No. 33 Porsche alongside fellow returnee Marc Miller. Partner announcements for the No. 33 Porsche, which carried ONE Capital and Motor Oil Matters support this year, will be announced at a later date.

Danny Burkett is set to continue with CJWR in an expected additional entry to IMSA’s Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada by Michelin series, a series where fellow open-wheel turned-sports car aces Daniel Morad and Scott Hargrove have starred in recent years.

“I’m delighted to get this opportunity with Winward & CJ Wilson Racing,” Faulkner said. “The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge is a series I have followed closely and I’m looking forward to competing at the sharp end of the field alongside my new teammate, Russell. I can’t say enough about him, he already has a lot of speed and he has the potential to really excel in 2017.”

No. 35 Porsche Cayman GT4. Rendering by Andy Blackmore Design; photo courtesy CJ Wilson Racing
No. 35 Porsche Cayman GT4. Rendering by Andy Blackmore Design; photo courtesy CJ Wilson Racing

Team manager Andris Laivins added, “Russell worked with Damien in the Porsche GT3 Cup car last year, and I think sharing an endurance car in 2017 is only going to make that pairing stronger. I believe they are going to have the Techemet No. 35 on the podium in short order, and more broadly, I think they will push, and be pushed by, Marc and Till in the #33 all year, which will make the entire team grow.  We’re facing a resurgent GS field this year, and everyone can’t wait to get to Daytona and get down to business.”

The two-car CJWR team should be a championship contender after Miller and Burkett came second this past season, winning at Virginia International Raceway in August.

The GS field should grow by leaps and bounds this year with the introduction of some new GT4-spec cars, with a 19-car class revealed in the entry list for this week’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 test.

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/