Photo: IndyCar

Pagenaud paces Penske 1-4 sweep in Barber first IndyCar practice

Leave a comment

Team Penske and Chevrolet was poised to go 1-2-3, in numerical order, in the opening 45-minute practice session for this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, the third round of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

And then they went one better with a 1-4 sweep right at the end of the session.

Defending race and series champion Simon Pagenaud took the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet to the top of the timesheets at the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park road course at 1:08.1104.

The 2015 race winner Josef Newgarden took his No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kit Chevrolet into second at 1:08.1822.

“It’s obviously a good start with our teammates. I think we were happy at the test; it seems to suit us well. We will try to capitalize on this the rest of this weekend. It’s great having Fitzgerald Glider Kit on board; they’re Tennessee boys, just like me,” Newgarden told IndyCar Radio’s Jake Query after the session.

Will Power, in need of a clean weekend in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and a past two-time winner at Barber, leapt into third at the end of the session with Helio Castroneves in fourth in the No. 3 AAA Team Penske Chevrolet.

Eight Hondas were next, led by Alexander Rossi in the No. 98 Andretti-Herta Autosport Honda in fifth at 1:08.4560. Rossi and Marco Andretti are in revised liveries this weekend, red and blue and red and white respectively.

The only red flag came when points leader Sebastien Bourdais ran wide exiting Turn 1 in his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda and collected a yard sign, which was funny but didn’t cause any damage to his car.

Series debutante Zach Veach clocked in at 1:10.6346 in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet, about 1.7 seconds off teammate Spencer Pigot in his first official IndyCar race weekend filling in for the injured JR Hildebrand.

Hildebrand is on site this weekend and provided an update to IndyCar Radio’s Query during the session:

“It was really hard to tell initially,” he said. “The X-rays at Long Beach didn’t look that bad. Different place, set of circumstances. Once they dug into it via a CT scan, it was more blown up than they thought it was. The doctors tried to keep my expectations out of control. There was a high risk of doing further damage if I got in the car this weekend. Phoenix is the goal for next weekend.”

Times are below. Owing to the track delay for barrier repairs from the morning’s Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires practice session, the Friday schedule is an hour behind.

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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/