Time running out for Hunter-Reay, Andretti in IndyCar title race

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Ryan Hunter-Reay (pictured) and Marco Andretti’s chances of winning the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship are not done for, but with just five races remaining on the schedule, their margin for error is gone.

Finishing behind points leader Helio Castroneves and second-place Scott Dixon (-31 points) won’t do for either Hunter-Reay, the defending series champion, or Andretti, who has 12 Top-10 finishes this year.

Starting this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, the Andretti Autosport duo must find ways to beat – and more importantly, keep beating – Castroneves and Dixon as the summer starts giving way to fall.

But the first step may well be the hardest, considering Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s degree of recent dominance at the winding circuit north of San Francisco.

Still, every point will be critical, like the one bonus marker that will go to the pole winner in this afternoon’s qualifying session (5:30 p.m. ET; broadcast on NBCSN at 9 p.m. ET).

Should Hunter-Reay manage to find his way onto the pole position – and he stands a chance after placing third overall in Friday’s practice runs – he’ll need to convert it into a better result than what he got the last time he started at the front of the grid.

Three weeks ago at Mid-Ohio, Hunter-Reay took P1 in qualifying but a two-stop strategy proved to be the wrong way to go and he finished fifth. With Castroneves taking a sixth-place result that day, he only moved from 69 to 65 points off the Brazilian for the championship.

As for Andretti, who sits in fourth in the standings at 76 points out, he must break a string of bad results in the wine country. Since winning at Sonoma in 2006 (his first IndyCar victory), the third-generation competitor has finished no higher than 12th across his last six starts there.

Events such as electrical problems at Milwaukee and a lack of fuel mileage at Pocono – where he had the dominant car – have damaged his bid for a title, and now it seems he has no other option but to make a sizable cut into his deficit this weekend.

If he can’t do that, then his hopes for an IndyCar crown may be done.

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”