Nico Jamin's No. 27 Andretti Indy Lights car. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: Entry lists released for St. Petersburg

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The entry lists for the three rungs on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires are out today, ahead of the season-opening weekends at St. Petersburg.

More than 50 drivers from 14 countries are present across the board; more previews for these series will come throughout this week.

Quick notes from the three series and the entry lists are below:

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires (15 entries)

  • The 15 drivers entered are the same as at the Spring Training test at¬†Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Andretti Autosport led both the oval and road course portions of the test.
  • That 15-driver entry is broken down between seven returning drivers (Santiago Urrutia, Kyle Kaiser, Neil Alberico, Dalton Kellett, Shelby Blackstock, Zachary Claman De Melo, Juan Piedrahita) and eight rookies (Aaron Telitz, Nicolas Dapero, Matheus Leist, Garth Rickards, Nico Jamin, Colton Herta, Ryan Norman, Pato O’Ward).
  • Carlin has won three of the four races at St. Petersburg the last two years. Ed Jones swept in 2015 on both the team and driver’s U.S. debut; Felix Serralles won race one last year before Belardi Auto Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist won race two.
  • The Indy Lights races from St. Petersburg have a 2 a.m. ET air time on March 18 on NBCSN.

Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires (14 entries)

  • A better than expected field of 14 cars will feature all participants from the Spring Training test at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a bunch of extras that didn’t test there last week.
  • Young guns Phillippe Denes (World Speed Motorsports), Max Hanratty (ArmsUp Motorsports) and Matt Machiko (FatBoy! Racing) add a bit of extra interest to the field. Hanratty had previously been announced with Leading Edge Grand Prix, but that team’s entry has not materialized.
  • Look for Juncos Racing to make an interesting driver announcement on Wednesday as Ricardo Juncos’ team, which wasn’t originally planning to run Pro Mazda this season, now is set to return after all with two cars.
  • Team Pelfrey swept last year’s St. Petersburg races with Pato O’Ward and Aaron Telitz winning one race each. Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports) swept 2015, Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing) swept 2014, and Matthew Brabham (Andretti Autosport) swept 2013. It’s been since 2012, when Connor De Phillippi (Juncos) and Jack Hawksworth (Pelfrey) made it two different teams that won in a weekend at St. Petersburg.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda (22 entries)

  • Six returning drivers (Parker Thompson, Luke Gabin, Ayla Agren, Robert Megennis, Dakota Dickerson, Lucas Kohl), 15 rookies and one TBA make up the field of 22 cars for the USF2000 season opener, with all cars but one the new Tatuus USF-17 that makes its race debut. One National Class entry still fields the previous generation Van Diemen.
  • Rinus Van Kalmthout switches from Benik, where he was initially announced, to Pabst Racing in a third car. He has also tested for Newman Wachs Racing.
  • Pabst has swept the weekend here the last two years with Jordan Lloyd and Yufeng Luo winning once apiece last year and Jake Eidson winning both races in 2015. In 2014, Victor Franzoni (Afterburner Autosport) and RC Enerson (Team E) split the wins. It’s been since 2013, when Scott Hargrove swept for Cape Motorsports, that the six-time defending champion team has won at St. Pete.

Race schedule

  • Indy Lights: Race 1, Sat., 5:10-6 p.m. ET; Race 2, Sun., 9;45-10:45 a.m. ET
  • Pro Mazda: Race 1, Sat. 11:50 a.m.-12:40 p.m. ET; Race 2, Sun. 4:30-5:20 p.m. ET
  • USF2000: Race 1, Sat., 8:40-9:20 a.m. ET; Race 2, Sat. 2-2:40 p.m ET

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/