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Telitz, Belardi plan for encore campaign in Indy Lights

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Aaron Telitz and Belardi Auto Racing have announced their intent to run the full 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season, with a partial budget already procured and a bit more still to find.

The Birchwood, Wis. native who now lives in Minneapolis book-ended the season in Indy Lights with wins at St. Petersburg in his debut, and at Watkins Glen in the rain – both of which were standout performances to the IndyCar paddock. He finished sixth in points, and third among a deep rookie field that also included Colton Herta (his baseball rival) and Matheus Leist.

Telitz is the first Indy Lights driver officially announced for 2018, but is one of several expected for the Belardi, Andretti Autosport and Juncos Racing teams. Further confirmation of those will come in the new year.

As noted, Telitz currently has a partial budget for the season, and he and his management team continue talks with prospective marketing partners. The 26-year-old is confirmed to start the season, and will once again be paired with Brian Belardi’s staff of experienced race engineers to pick up where they left off last year, having dominated the wet weather action in the season finale at Watkins Glen.

“It’s a great feeling to be coming back with Belardi Auto Racing to have another go at the Indy Lights Championship,” Telitz enthused. “This will be the first time in my career that I get to drive for the same team in back-to-back years. The continuity is already there and we will be a force from the drop of the green flag at St. Pete.”

“As always, funding could be a limiting factor for me this season as I will be working to finish out my budget throughout the season,” he added. “Brian has been gracious enough to work with me and figure out how we can make it work this year. I want to offer a massive thanks to my long-time partner Rice Lake Weighing Systems, who have been with me since Formula Fords and continue to ensure my racing career is able to flourish. Also thanks to Morrie’s Auto Group, PPG, Assured Automotive, Styled Aesthetic, Liberty Engineering, and Bell Helmets, who are all on-board to assist in my run at the championship in 2018. I know that we will have our work cut out for us, but I’m confident that we can get the job done and bring the Driver Championship back to Belardi in 2018!”

Telitz will look to go for the title in his second season. One of the more successful drivers on the Mazda Road to Indy, Telitz has 10 wins among Indy Lights, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires (where he won the 2016 title) and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series. The Pro Mazda title netted him the Soul Red colors this past season. He paid it forward by putting forth a self-imposed carbon fee on his racing program.

Belardi, who still plans to run three and potentially four cars in Indy Lights next season, is enthused about having at least one of his 2017 drivers back.

“I’m incredibly excited about how our team is developing for 2018, and being able to run Aaron again next year is such a huge positive for our organization,” he said. “As a rookie last year, he showed us his talents immediately, winning the opener at St. Petersburg. As he continued to develop in the car, he became even more impressive. I believe that his performance in the rain at Watkins Glen is a real indication of just how good Aaron is and how good he could become. We’re thrilled to have him back.”

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/