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Kalkhoven, Vasser thank fans, confirm end of KV Racing

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KV Racing Technology’s lifespan as a Verizon IndyCar Series team is at its official end.

The team confirmed in a release on Thursday it will be supporting Juncos Racing and team principal Ricardo Juncos as it prepares for its step up into IndyCar from the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires.

KV started its lifespan as PK Racing in 2003, and went through various iterations (PKV Racing, KV Racing Technology, KV/AFS Racing, KVSH Racing) through 2016.

However, the team only barely answered the bell for 2016, with Sebastien Bourdais and HYDROXYCUT support being announced the week of the Phoenix International Raceway test. Bourdais left for Dale Coyne Racing following the end of 2016 and KV’s future became a talking point throughout this offseason.

With KV’s departure, it leaves Dale Coyne Racing as the only team left who transferred over from Champ Car in 2008 still active in 2017.

Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven. Photo courtesy KV Racing Technology
Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven. Photo courtesy KV Racing Technology

Here are the statements as issued by KV Racing Technology racing co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser:

“I want to thank all those who have written to express their appreciation of the efforts of KV Racing Technology during the last 14 years,” said Kalkhoven. “However as I approach 73, I feel I can no longer give the team the effort and support it and the team members deserve.

“I have really enjoyed my time in the series, helping with reunification and of course winning the greatest spectacle in racing… the Indianapolis 500!

“It is my firm belief that the series is on a major upswing under the leadership of Mark Miles and Jay Frye and has a bright future. I remain committed to help in any way I can, particularly in encouraging new owners and sponsors. In particular Ricardo Juncos, to whom we will be offering our support.

“To all the fans who follow the series, and cheered for KVRT, my heartfelt thanks and please spread the good word about the fantastic sport we have.”

Vasser said, “First and foremost I want to thank all the fans who have supported the team over the years. I also want to thank Kevin Kalkhoven for giving me the special and unique opportunity to transition from a driver to a team owner while I was still driving.

“I am very proud to have been a part of this team and I will always cherish all the great people and drivers we worked side-by-side with to achieve our successes.

“It has been a journey of many ups and downs, but I will always remember winning the 2013 Indy 500.

“IndyCar racing has been a part of my life for 25 years, it is in my soul and it will be interesting to see where it takes me from here.”

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.