Photo courtesy IMSA

IndyCar names motorsports veteran Kyle Novak as new race director for 2018

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In a major move, veteran race official Kyle Novak has been named race director of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

IndyCar president of competition and operations Jay Frye made the announcement Friday afternoon.

Novak’s new position will oversee all operations in Race Control at all 17 IndyCar races in the 2018 season. Utilizing a combination of audio, video and data communications, Race Control oversees and controls all aspects of competition.

Novak will also work with IndyCar’s race stewards to review on-track incidents, although the stewards will have final say on whether a penalty should be assessed to a driver or team.

“Throughout our extensive search for a race director, one name was mentioned repeatedly – and that was Kyle Novak,” Frye said in a media release. “We have been aware of Kyle’s work for the past couple of years.

“He’s clearly impressed those he’s worked with and, after meeting with him, we knew he would be a great fit for our Race Control team. Kyle has a great future and we couldn’t be more excited to have him as part of INDYCAR.”

Novak, a 36-year-old attorney, comes to IndyCar after a three-year run as either a race director or steward for various sports car series sanctioned by IMSA.

He began his lengthy tenure in the motorsports world in drag racing, where he, his father and brother raced in amateur bracket competition in Dexter, Michigan.

“(I’ve) always been a gearhead,” Novak said. “Always working on cars; muscle cars, mostly. That’s how I got my feet wet, and then one thing led to another. And here I am.”

But Novak is no stranger to Indy car racing. He previously worked as operations manager and director of operations in the old CART and Champ Car Series from 2004-2008.

He’s also served in various roles in the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series in the Sports Car Club of America, the Global MX-5 Cup Series, and race director for the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge, while also serving as a race steward for IMSA’s top series, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“Jay (Frye) and I hit it off immediately – it’s the fresh outlook he brings that is a huge part of it (for me),” Novak said. “Ironically enough, three people who work in INDYCAR Race Control are some of the first people I met in the industry, and that goes all the way back to 2004.

“Those are among the key people I’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis. There’s a great deal of familiarity with them.

“Motorsports is such a small industry that many of the people who have helped me over the years have stayed with me as industry colleagues.

“But INDYCAR has always been at the forefront of professional motorsports in North America, and I had the opportunity on several occasions to witness that first hand, since many IMSA races are run in conjunction with INDYCAR events.

“I can’t thank the people at IMSA enough for the opportunities I was given and for their assistance in making this a smooth transition to INDYCAR. I can’t wait to get started.”

Novak assumes his duties immediately in preparation for the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11.

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/