United Fiber & Data announces IndyCar return; capacity, driver TBD

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Andretti Autosport has three of its four 2014 cars locked down for next year, and the potential exists for the team to add a fifth full-time car for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season per Michael Andretti’s wishes expressed ahead of the Milwaukee IndyFest race.

Meanwhile one of Andretti’s 2014 commercial partners appears set to return to IndyCar for 2015 and beyond.

United Fiber & Data, which upped its involvement this year to become primary sponsor of both James Hinchcliffe’s IndyCar and Matthew Brabham’s Indy Lights car, addressed rumors it might not be returning with a declarative “we’re here, and we’re staying” tweet on Labor Day Monday.

UFD’s presence this year has extended beyond the drivers themselves. Their activation has included the UFD Girls, who were present at all Verizon IndyCar Series races this season.

As for whose racecars UFD will be adorning next year, that still remains a mystery.

Hinchcliffe does not yet have a contract signed, but is working towards returning with Andretti Autosport for 2015.

Brabham’s status is yet to be determined with Andretti not yet having committed to an Indy Lights program next year, as that series prepares to introduce the new Dallara IL15 chassis.

Michael Andretti told MotorSportsTalk at Milwaukee he “has a lot of time” for Brabham and will look to keep him involved under the team fold in some way, shape or form over the offseason and into 2015.

UFD returning is a good thing – and we await to see whether it will be an encore for Hinchcliffe and UFD in the No. 27 Honda or whether it could potentially shift within the paddock.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”