Photo courtesy Harding Racing

Gabby Chaves gets full-time 2018 IndyCar ride with Harding Racing

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It took two years, but Gabby Chaves’ patience finally paid off Friday.

Chaves has been looking for a full-time IndyCar ride since after the 2015 season with Bryan Herta Autosport (which then merged with Andretti Autosport), a year in which Chaves was named IndyCar Rookie of the Year as well as Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.

Now, after two seasons of a combined 10 IndyCar starts, the 24-year-old Colombian driver is back in a full-time ride with Harding Racing, which is making its first full-time foray in the IndyCar Series.

Chaves is well-known to Harding Racing, having competed in three races for the upstart team, including a career-best, ninth-place finish in the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

In addition to his ninth-place showing at Indianapolis, Chaves finished fifth at Texas and 15th at Pocono in his two other starts for the Harding group.

“I really can’t begin to express how happy and excited I am to get back on track full-time with Harding Racing,” Chaves said in a media release. “We built a really strong team in a very short amount of time in 2017.

“I’m looking forward to building on that and will be excited to see what our new team members will be able to do to take us to the next level. Most of all, I’d like to thank (team owner) Mike Harding for believing in my potential and for giving me this opportunity.

“I can’t wait to see what we can do and believe we can have a lot of success together.”

Hiring Chaves, who will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet, is just the latest in a number of offseason changes at Harding Racing. Their biggest hire was Brian Barnhart, former IndyCar race control boss and VP of competition, to assume team president role at Harding Racing.

“We are building on the success from 2017 and will take it to the next level with enhanced excitement in the upcoming season.” Barnhart said. “Our sole focus is on making Gabby Chaves and Harding Racing the most competitive team possible in our first full season.

“I believe we will be a strong contender team in the talent-fueled Verizon IndyCar Series. … I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish in 2018.”

Another major grab for the organization is hiring two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. as an executive consultant.

“We’re a quiet powerhouse,” Unser said. “This offseason we worked diligently to make sure that Harding Racing will be strong in 2018.

“The team had a fantastic start in 2017, and we are completely focused and prepared for this upcoming season. … I know the team is motivated, passionate and hungry for success this year.”

One full-time ride remains available for the 2018 IndyCar season, with Dale Coyne Racing.

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/