WEST ALLIS, Wis. – “The family” of DHL, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport will continue for a further three seasons.
The current Indianapolis 500 champion joined his team boss, Michael Andretti, and DHL Express U.S. CEO Mike Parra to confirm the partnership before today’s ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers.
“It’s a really big day for us and for IndyCar, to have DHL committed to a multi-year deal,” Andretti said.
Added Hunter-Reay, “I can’t say enough about DHL from day one we worked together back in 2011. We’ve grown as a team, and as a family. We’ve just won the biggest race together, and the 2012 championship. And we’re working hard for more.”
Parra added the partnership extension was “not a difficult one” and that it provided huge ad value for the company. International races were also mentioned, but not expanded.
What followed in an impromptu Q&A with Andretti directly provided a series of nuggets.
First, the team’s possible sports car program – Andretti had been rumored to run a new HPD ARX-04b coupe – is all but dead for 2015.
“It doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen. Something fell through and it’s disappointing,” Andretti said.
The focus, instead, shifts to the goal of a fifth full-time IndyCar for 2015. It does “not necessarily” need to be Simon Pagenaud.
Andretti did confirm Carlos Munoz for a second season alongside RHR and Marco Andretti. Sponsorship-wise, Marco Andretti’s car is likely to have different sponsors for at least selected races and Michael Andretti did not confirm the Dr Pepper Snapple group’s full-time presence – yet anyway. The team now works to re-sign James Hinchcliffe. Andretti did say he was pleased to have three cars already put to bed.
One of Andretti’s Indy Lights drivers, Zach Veach, could drive a partial IndyCar season in 2015 if he wins this year’s Lights championship. Andretti said he has a lot of time for both Veach and Matty Brabham, who finished 1-2 in today’s race. However, he could not commit to running either of them with the new Indy Lights chassis in 2015; Andretti said he’ll only run one if he can find a paying driver.
“The only way I can do it is if I can find kids who can afford paying for the car,” Andretti said. “I won’t be able to go out and buy the new chassis. It’s not dead, it’s still possible, but at this time we don’t have anything.”
Andretti’s Pro Mazda team is also a question mark, while Andretti said he hopes to reveal the second driver (or drivers) of his second FIA Formula E entry soon.
As for the Andretti Sports Marketing department, Andretti is optimistic the New Orleans race – discussed earlier this year – will happen in 2015.
“We’re working on New Orleans. We’re announcing it hopefully somewhere soon,” Andretti said. “We’re very excited about this event. It’s going to be way bigger than people think. It will be for ’15.”
Asked on a date, Andretti replied, “I think they have a spot, I’m not gonna say where, but we’ll be happy with what’s being discussed.”
And as for this race, in the first of its two-year deal in August, Andretti said walkup ticket sales will be key.
“We have another year. We’re still building and we want to go beyond next year,” he said. “I think today’s walkup is important. Sponsorship is way up. We’re going the right direction; we continue to build and we want to say next year that hopefully we can continue this thing.”