Andretti Autosport and Bryan Herta Autosport have confirmed an extension of their partnership in the Verizon IndyCar Series through the 2018 season, with Marco Andretti stepping into the No. 98 Honda entry.
Andretti and Herta started working together in 2016 upon Alexander Rossi’s arrival in the series, highlighted by a famous victory in the 100th Indianapolis 500.
Rossi continued in the No. 98 Andretti-Herta entry through 2017, taking one race win and two further podium finishes, with the American driver signing a new multi-year deal with Andretti earlier this year.
Herta stepped back from his hands-on involvement in the No. 98 entry to call strategy for Marco Andretti, combining for five top-10 finishes across the course of the season.
Andretti will now transfer over to the No. 98 Andretti-Herta entry for the 2018 season to work closer with the team, while Rossi will move in the opposite direction, racing in the No. 27 Andretti car.
“I’m thrilled to be continuing the partnership with Andretti Autosport. The relationship has worked really well both on and off the track for us and our partners,” Herta said.
“I’m looking forward to moving back onto the No. 98 timing stand with Marco and can’t wait to get the 2018 season started.”
“I’m very much looking forward to being in the Andretti-Herta entry. My goal is to bring the No. 98 another Indy 500 win along with many other victories,” added Andretti.
“Working with Bryan has been refreshing – he is very committed to getting me all the tools I need to get back into victory circle. He believes in my talent and is dedicated to turn that into results.”
The deal confirms a four-car full-season entry for Andretti across the two teams, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and newcomer Zach Veach joining Rossi and Andretti.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.