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Might Miller Lite sponsorship be brewing for Newgarden?

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Since rejoining the United States racing scene in 2011, Josef Newgarden has established himself as one of its great characters.

Whether he was running around incognito at the streets of Long Beach or Texas Motor Speedway to promote his rookie IndyCar season (while also professing his fandom of Dario Franchitti) or giving a tour of St. Petersburg, Florida ahead of the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the 26-year-old has consistently illustrated a knack for entertaining fans and maintaining a polished demeanor for sponsors.

Those traits, along with supreme driving talent, made him an obvious fit for Team Penske.

Newgarden’s media prowess was on display again on Thursday when he posted a Twitter video promoting the 101 Days to the Indy 500 festivities. In the video, Newgarden is seen next to a small refrigerator packed with Miller Lite and offers to supply the beverage to everyone celebrating the upcoming 101st Indianapolis 500. The video turns humorous when the person filming Josef reminds him that there is not enough Miller Lite to supply everyone who may want to celebrate, prompting him to admit that you may need to purchase your own if you want to join in the festivities.

For roughly 35 seconds, the video appears to be little more than a promotional video again displaying Newgarden’s charismatic personality.

However, it concludes with Newgarden making a peculiar statement. “Make sure you buy some Miller Lite and support the No. 2 car with me driving for Team Penske,” he asserted as the clip ended.

The wording is curious and could imply that Miller Lite might be sponsoring him in some capacity during the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, possibly at the Indianapolis 500. Reddit users picked up on this facet relatively quickly, and a debate ensued.

While there are team owners, such Roger Penske, who run teams in multiple disciplines, it is rare that they’ll use a driver to promote a brand that supports a team in an entirely different discipline, even if that team competes under the same organization.

TALLADEGA, AL – OCTOBER 21: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, drives in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 21, 2016 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Miller has been a staple with Team Penske for decades, most notably with their Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team. The brand, now under Anheuser-Busch ownership, has sponsored the No. 2 NASCAR team for more than two decades, beginning in 1991 with Miller Genuine Draft. Miller Lite adorned the entry beginning in 1997, resulted in the famed “Blue Deuce” paint scheme, and maintains a presence to this day, though the color scheme of the car is now predominantly white, resulting in the informal nickname of the “Blanco Deuce.”

However, Miller is no stranger to Penske’s IndyCar program. It was featured prominently in the 1980s on Danny Sullivan’s car, with the combination winning the 1985 Indianapolis 500 and the 1988 PPG Indy Car World Series championship together. Miller branding was also featured on Bobby Rahal’s IndyCar teams cars from 1992 through 2003.

Of note, the No. 2 machine that Newgarden will pilot in the Verizon IndyCar Series has featured a series of rotating sponsors, including Verizon, DeVilbiss, PPG, and Hawk Performance, as well as Roger Penske’s Penske Truck Leasing, and Newgarden carried a Verizon livery at the recent Phoenix test.

Vettel in no rush to sign new Ferrari F1 contract

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Sebastian Vettel is in no rush to sign a new Formula 1 contract with Ferrari despite his current deal expiring at the end of the season.

Vettel joined Ferrari in 2015 on a three-year deal, and currently leads the F1 drivers’ championship for the Italian marque ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel’s future has been subject to much speculation as part of the annual ‘silly season’ driver rumor mill, but the four-time world champion has shown few signs of wanting to leave Ferrari.

In order to focus on his bid for a fifth title, Vettel is not looking to sign a new contract with Ferrari any time soon, believing there to be no need for an immediate decision.

“We have other things to do. In the summer there’s a bit more time, there’s a couple of weeks rest where there’s no race,” Vettel said in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“But for now, focus is extremely high on working on the car. A piece of paper can be signed fairly quickly, so that’s not a problem.

“I’m not in a rush, I don’t think the team is in a rush as far as I understand. I think they would tell me otherwise.

“There’s no problem. Nothing’s wrong.”

Vettel is currently paired at Ferrari with Kimi Raikkonen, whose contract is also up at the end of the year.

‘Dinner with Racers’ rides again for third season

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Spencer Pumpelly killing a guy… allegedly. Johnny O’Connell attempting to run over Dario Franchitti… again, allegedly. Copious mentions of Bill Riley. Chicken sandwiches.

All these inside jokes, along with awesome stories and food selections, are staples of the “Dinner with Racers” podcast series, which is presented by Continental Tire, and will roll on once again this fall for a third season.

The key addition to this year from co-creators Sean Heckman, PR veteran and partner in TMB Creative, Inc. (The Media Barons) and Ryan Eversley, Acura factory driver for RealTime Racing in the Pirelli World Challenge, is the launch of an official guest submission contest (fans can submit their guest recommendations here), as well as other fan contests to be revealed as they get closer to hitting the road.

Quotes from both Eversley and Heckman in the official release go true to form if you know both individuals, their styles and sense of humor, and if you’ve listened to any of the podcasts from seasons one and two.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this again,” stated co-host Eversley. “It’s honestly a lot of fun to do this, and in many ways very refreshing. The enthusiasm we find in every guest we meet, no matter how accomplished, is incredible, and something that reminds us both how great it is to work in this sport. The only thing more satisfying is the tremendous fan response we’ve had over the years. We honestly had no clue how many people would not only listen, but respond so positively, and for that we couldn’t be more grateful. This year we’re trying to do a little more to include our fan-base, we hope they enjoy it.”

“I agree, it’s a lot of fun,” continued Heckman. “For the first week.”

The cross-country trip will occur this fall and episodes are generally released around the holidays, either on the front side or back side of Thanksgiving but before Christmas.

Ferrucci steps up to Formula 2 with Trident for rest of season

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American racer Santino Ferrucci will make the step up to FIA Formula 2 for the remainder of the 2017 season, linking up with Trident.

Ferrucci, 19, made his GP3 debut in 2016 and has raced in the series ever since, balancing development duties with the Haas Formula 1 team.

The native of Woodbury, Connecticut will make his F2 debut this weekend in Hungary, securing a seat with Trident for the rest of the season.

“We are really proud to announce the agreement reached between Team Trident and the American racer Santino Ferrucci for the final five rounds of the FIA Formula 2 season,” Trident team manager Giacomo Ricci.

“The 19-year-old already had the chance to test one of our GP3 Series cars in last November’s collective postseason test at Abu Dhabi.

“Back then, he impressed the team’s staff, bringing home great results and keeping his name among the top-5 at all times.

“He is now set to make his Formula 2 debut at Budapest, on the same track where he led the way in GP3 Series testing.

“I am sure that Santino has all the skills needed to adapt to a Formula 2 car very quickly. Also, thanks to his Formula 1 experience, he will not have problems in managing more power and carbon fiber brakes.”

Pirelli confirms Brazil, Abu Dhabi tire selections to finish 2017

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Pirelli has confirmed the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix tire selections for the final two races of the season, which brings to a conclusion all the selected sets for the rest of the way.

Pirelli will have the supersoft, soft and medium compounds on offer at Sao Paulo in Brazil with the ultrasoft back for Abu Dhabi with the supersoft and soft compounds.

The Abu Dhabi selections will match those at Austin and Mexico City for that back-to-back in October.

Here are the remaining tire selections for after the summer break. At Hungary this weekend, teams can run the supersoft, soft and medium.

  • August 27: Belgium, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft
  • Sept. 3: Italy, Supersoft, Soft, Medium
  • Sept. 17: Singapore, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft 
  • Oct. 1: Malaysia, Supersoft, Soft, Medium
  • Oct. 8: Japan, Supersoft, Soft, Medium
  • Oct. 22: USA, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft 
  • Oct. 29: Mexico, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft
  • Nov. 12: Brazil, Supersoft, Soft, Medium
  • Nov. 26: Abu Dhabi, Ultrasoft, Supersoft, Soft